River otter adaptations

Animals have body parts suited for their lifestyle and habitat. Use this river otter body parts and adaptations diagram along with otter matching cards to teach about animal adaptations and, specifically, how otters thrive on land and in the water.

Illinois Science Standards: 11.A.2e; 11.B.2b; 12.A.3c; 12.B.2b

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Too many river otters?

Illinois wildlife biologists manage populations of animals. Explore the methods they use to increase, decrease or stabilize wildlife populations. Learn about carrying capacity and how to identify good river otter habitat.

Illinois Science and Social Science Learning Standards: 11.A.2e; 11.B.2a; 12.B.2a; 13.B,2f; 17.A.2b: 17.B.2b; 17.C.2c; 18.B.2b

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Words and Pictures Connect Nature and People: The American Conservation Movement

Men and women during the American Conservation Movement used their skills as writers and illustrators to communicate their passion of the natural world to others. Persuasive essays and articles have been used throughout history to motivate people to be concerned about environmental issues and special places. Read conservation writing from Illinois and learn about conservation pioneers.

Illinois Learning Standard: 16.E.2b

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Fur Trade Rendezvous

The fur trade was an important part of the economy for various cultures in the Illinois Territory. Using this activity, students will be able to explain the premise of fur trading in the region during the fur trade era (1700s to early 1800s), list examples of furs that were traded during the fur trade, discuss ways that trading impacted various cultures in the region, and discuss the advantages and difficulties of an economy based on trade between people of different cultures.

Illinois Learning Standards: 16.C.2c; 16.D2b; 16.E.2c

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Beaver or Not?

The presence of wildlife can have positive and negative effects on human activities. This activity will enable students to discuss the potential for wildlife benefits and conflicts, understand that there may be variety of opinions addressing one issue, and simulate a town board meeting and discuss and decide on an issue related to the environment.

Illinois Learning Standard: 17C

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Trappers Then and Now

Modern trappers are much different than trappers who paddled canoes through the Illinois Territory in the 1800s. This exercise helps students compare historic and modern approaches to and beliefs about wildlife and trapping. Students can discuss the trapper’s life then and now. They also can compare furbearer over-harvesting in the 1800s to current practices. Finally, students can learn how modern trappers contribute to wildlife conservation in Illinois.

Illinois Learning Standards: 13.B.2f, 16.E.2a, 16.E.2c, 17C.2c

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Regulating the Harvest

Fur harvesting practices in early Illinois Territory led to wildlife such as beavers becoming almost extinct in Illinois by 1900. By participating in their own classroom “harvest,” students will be able to understand how hunters and trappers in the Illinois Territory over-harvested wildlife such as beaver. Students can see how wildlife conservation science and regulations keep today’s beaver populations healthy.

Illinois Learning Standards: 13.B.2f, 16.E.2a, 16.E.2c, 17C.2c

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Furbearers of Illinois

Furbearer is the name given to mammals that traditionally have been hunted and trapped for fur. There are 14 species of furbearers in Illinois, although only 12 species may be legally hunted and/or trapped. Furbearers that are legally harvested for human use are always common and abundant. Through this activity, students will gain a vocabulary and knowledge about furbearers ecology and conservation.

Illinois Learning Standards: 12B, 12.B.2b

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Illinois Department of Natural Resources logo

Wild Illinois History is presented by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.