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Wildlife Adventure (REGPCEC)

TopicHabitat and Management - General
Habitat and Management - Species and Habitat Management
Laboratory and Hands-on Activities - General
Wildlife - General
Wildlife - Mammals
After differentiating between domestic and nondomestic animals, participants will learn about wildlife. They will identify species native to Arkansas and make connections with tracks, scat, fur, sounds or other clues. They will also discuss ways to continue a study of wildlife.
Grade LevelK - 12
Recommended SettingIndoor or outdoor classroom
LocationRick Evans Grandview Prairie Conservation Education Center, Columbus
Education Program Coordinator, 800-983-4219
Duration30 - 45 minutes
Suggested Number of Participants10 - 30
  • Distinguish between domestic, feral and nondomestic or wild animals.
  • Talk about native versus exotic.
  • Discuss different species of Arkansas wildlife.
  • Learn the difference between game animals and nongame animals including endangered and threatened species.
  • Learn how to use fur, tracks, scat, sounds and other signs to identify Arkansas wildlife.
  • Learn different avenues for studying wildlife.
Key Terms*


Animal kingdom








Environmental niche

Ethical hunter




Food chain












Prescribed fire












Wildlife management


AGFC pocket guides

AGFC trading cards

“Arkansas Hunting Guidebook”

“Arkansas Watchable Wildlife Guide”

“Arkansas Wildlife” by Susan Morrison

“Audubon Insect Guide”

“Bats of the U.S.”

“Fire: Friend or Foe”

“Fishes of Arkansas”

Other related field guide(s)

“Peterson First Guide to Urban Wildlife”

“The Amphibians and Reptiles of Arkansas”

The Nature Conservancy’s “A Landowner’s Guide to Conservation Options”

“Tracks and Scat of the Southeast”

“Tracks, Scats, and Signs”

Wildlife Adventure trunk



It can be difficult to distinguish between the terms “wild,” “domesticated,” “tame” and “feral” animals. Wildlife are animals that live in nature, providing their own food, water and shelter. Wild animals select their own mates and are more suited to the habitat in which they live. Each animal serves a special function in the ecosystem. The term “wildlife” can be applied to microscopic organisms, intermediate-sized animals such as insects, spiders, frogs and lizards and large animals such as elephants and whales.

Domesticated animals are those that humans keep captive to provide products and services. Domestication takes a long time and involves years of selective breeding. All domesticated animals have their origin in wild ancestors. Since they are kept by humans, they do not provide for their own needs and select mates from other domesticated animals or are selectively bred. Livestock such as cows, sheep and pigs, and pets such as cats and dogs are domesticated animals. Tame animals allow human contact, but many domesticated animals are not tame. Pets are tame and allow human contact, while some livestock may allow humans in proximity but may not allow contact. Wildlife may be tamed some but are mostly considered unsuitable and frequently illegal as pets. Many domesticated animals released into the wild can learn to provide for their own needs.  These are referred to as feral.


Exotic animals are rare or unusual animals kept as a pet. Some examples are primates, potbellied pigs, ferrets, reptiles, large cats such as lions or tigers, snakes and rare birds. “Exotic" may also refer to a species which is not indigenous to the owner's locale.

  1. Begin by discussing domestic, feral and nondomestic or wild animals.
  2. Ask for names of some domestic and nondomestic or wild animals. Record their answers.
  3. Discuss native versus exotic and mark off all exotics.
  4. Discuss game versus nongame and classify into these two categories.
  5. Once the list is condensed to game and nongame wildlife, talk about particular species.
  6. Have participants match species to props and discuss facts about each species or test them with a written wildlife quiz or verbal trivia. Common species that could be discussed:
    • White-tailed deer
    • Rocky Mountain elk
    • Bobcat
    • Coyote
    • Foxes: red, gray
    • Rabbits (eastern cottontail, swamp)
    • Beaver
    • Nutria
    • Mink
    • Muskrat
    • Frogs: bull frog, tree frog, leopard frog
    • Snakes: copperhead, rattlesnakes, black rat, cottonmouth
    • Turtles: box turtle, snapping turtles, sliders
    • American alligator
    • Eastern wild turkey
    • Mourning dove
    • Bobwhite quail
    • Skunks (striped and spotted)
    • Owls: barred, barn, screech, great horned
    • Hawks: red-tailed hawk, northern harrier
    • Raccoon
    • Nine-banded armadillo
    • Opossum
    • Squirrels: gray, fox, flying
    • Bats: little brown bat
    • Ducks: mallard, wood duck
    • Geese: Canada
    • Black bear
    • Spiders: black widow, brown recluse
    • Insects: butterfliesFish: catfish
    • Mussels
  7. Ask participants for ways to continue their study of wildlife
    • Reference books and field guides
    • Brochures, pamphlets and magazines
    • Computer and associated tools
    • Join a conservation club
    • Field observations (this one being the very best)
      • Size and shape
      • Coloration
      • Sound
      • Signs such as tracks, scat, scrapes, scratching, claw marks, beaver sticks
  8. Discuss management tools:
    • Ethical hunter
    • Habitat manipulation (prescribed fire for land, fertilization for water)
    • Land acquisition
      Conservation easement(s)
    • Government conservation programs
    • Restocking
    • Research
    • Federal and state laws and regulations
  • Explain the differences among domestic, feral and nondomestic or wild animals and give examples.
  • Contrast native and exotic species and give examples.
  • Define and list game and nongame species.

Amphibian – any cold-blooded, egg laying vertebrate of the class Amphibia having gilled aquatic larvae and air-breathing, semiterrestrial adults; examples are frogs and toads, newts and salamanders, and caecilians

Animal kingdom – taxonomic kingdom comprising all living or extinct animals; other kingdoms are Plant, Fungi, Protista or Monera

Arachnid – arthropod with two body segments and four sets of legs located on their front (cephalothorax)

Arthropod – invertebrate with an external skeleton, segmented body, and jointed attachments called appendages belonging to the Phylum Arthropoda

Bird – any warm-blooded vertebrate of the class Aves, having a body covered with feathers, forelimbs modified into wings, scaly legs, a beak, and no teeth, and bearing young in a hard-shelled egg

Carnivore – any animal that consumes other animals, whether living (predation) or dead (scavenging)

Diurnal – active by day (as opposed to nocturnal) (Web definition)

Domestic – tame animal living near humans that depends on someone for food, water and shelter

Endangered (species) – an organism at risk of extinction throughout all or most of its range

Environmental niche – habitat supplying the necessities for an organism or species to exist; an organism’s or population’s function within an ecological community

Ethical hunter – person who hunts by a personal or moral code

Exotic – a species that has been introduced from another geographic region to an area outside its natural range

Feral – animals that have escaped domestication and have become wild

Fish – any of three classes (jawless, cartilaginous and bony) of cold-blooded vertebrate animals living in water and having fins, permanent gills for breathing, and, usually, scales

Food chain – feeding order in an ecological community that passes food energy from one organism to another as each consumes a lower member and in turn is preyed upon by a higher member

Game – legal name for animals that may be managed and hunted only under regulation; animals with a declared open season

Habitat – an arrangement of food, water, shelter or cover, and space suitable to animals’ needs

Herbivore – plant-eating animal

Insect – invertebrate animal of the class Insecta of the phylum Arthropoda with an exoskeleton, three sets of jointed legs, a segmented body made up of head, thorax, abdomen and typically one or two pairs of wings

Mammal – any of a class of higher vertebrates, including man, that produce milk for their young, have fur or hair, are warm-blooded and, except for the egg-laying monotremes, bear young alive

Native – living or growing naturally in a region and not introduced from elsewhere

Nocturnal – active at night (as opposed to diurnal)

Nondomestic – animal that is not tame, lives in nature and survives without the aid of human beings

Nongame – all wildlife species that are not commonly hunted, killed or consumed by humans

Omnivore – an animal that eats both animal and vegetable matter

Predator – an animal that hunts and kills other animals, usually for food

Prescribed fire – controlled fire used as an ecosystem management tool

Prey – an animal that is killed and eaten by another animal

Reptile – any cold-blooded, egg-laying, air-breathing vertebrate of the class Reptilia, including turtles, snakes, lizards, crocodilians, amphibians, tuatara and various extinct members including the dinosaurs

Research – systematic investigation to discover facts, establish or revise a theory or develop an action plan based on the facts discovered

Restocking – management tool used to replenish a resource

Scat – an animal’s fecal droppings, especially a wild animal

Scavenger – animal, such as a bird or insect, that feeds on decaying matter

Sign – evidence of wild animals such as tracks, scat, rubs, etc.

Species – biological classification of plants and animals immediately below the genus level

Threatened – an organism or species in danger of becoming extinct

Wildfire – uncontrolled landscape fire

Wildlife – animals that are not tamed or domesticated including insects, spiders, birds, reptiles, fish, amphibians and mammals

Wildlife management – application of scientific knowledge and technical skills to protect, preserve, conserve, limit, enhance or extend the value of wildlife and its habitat