Five Wild Picks / Animals to Love This Halloween
Although studies have shown that humans are the scariest thing in nature, many wild animals get a bad rap, especially during the Halloween season. But there are far more reasons to protect these five critters than to fear them:
1) Bats eat billions of tons of insects every summer, pollinate crops and spread seeds that help restore ecosystems. Despite how eerily important these unique flying mammals are, their populations are declining, and half of the bat species in the United States are imperiled.
2) Tarantulas are more likely to hide or play dead than bite a person, but their venom has helped researchers understand human pain and disease. Although some can live as long as 30 years, many aren't given the chance as they're either killed by people who fear them or poached for the pet trade by people who love them too much.
3) Snakes are fascinating predators that help keep rodent populations in check, smelling the air with their tongues and sensing vibrations in their jaw bones to find their prey. But they face a scary amount of persecution, along with threats from habitat loss, wildlife trade, invasive species and climate change.
4) Owls live on every continent except Antarctica and are known for their spooky nocturnal songs and superb hunting skills. But around the world they're losing habitat at frightening rates, as well as facing threats from invasive species, climate change and poisoning from ingesting pesticides consumed by their prey.
5) Wolves are beloved symbols of the wild for many people, but for others they evoke deep cultural fears rooted in folk tales and werewolf lore. Despite the fact that wolves are a keystone species that keeps ecosystems healthy, powerful threats like hunting and habitat loss still stand in the way of their survival.