Idaho is a very diverse state. From the southern sagebrush steppe to the steep mountains of north Idaho, the state is home to an array of wildlife species that rely on various habitats for their survival. All of the 12 million acres of public lands the BLM manages in Idaho support a diversity of fish, animals and plants. In fact, across the United States, the BLM manages more wildlife habitat than any other Federal or state government agency.
What is a species?
The word species means a set of animals that have characteristics in common that make them like each other but unlike other sets. For example, there are many different kinds of birds, but there is only one species of red-winged blackbird.
Any group of living and nonliving things interacting with each other is considered an ecosystem. Ecosystems can be as small as a puddle, or as large as the entire Earth. In an ecosystem, water, plants, animals, air, light, and soil all work together to support life. Usally, plants and animals in a particular ecosystem are all dependent on one another. All the parts work together to make a balanced system.
One of Idaho's special ecosystems is called sagebrush steppe. The sun makes sagebrush grow. Birds like sage-grouse eat the sagebrush and insects that live on it, and also use it for their nests and breeding. Rabbits, deer, antelope and elk also use the sagebrush for food and shelter. Predators like mountain lions or coyotes eat rabbits, deer, and antelope. Sagebrush also helps keep valuable soil on the ground, so that other grasses and shrubs may grow.
If, for some reason, the sun were to stop shining, sagebrush and other plants would die, then sage-grouse, rabbits, elk, antelope and other animals that depend on the plants for food and cover. After that, predators such as mountain lions and coyotes would die because there would be nothing for them to eat.
What is a habitat?
Within an ecosystem, there are habitats that vary in size. A habitat is the place where populations of animals live. A population is a group of living organisms of the same kind, living in the same place at the same time. All of the populations interact and depend on each other, forming a community. The habitat must supply the needs of the animals in the community so they can survive and reproduce, therefore habitats must include things like food, water, shelter, proper temperature, oxygen, and minerals. If the populations of animals cannot meet their needs in a particular habitat, they may die or move to a better one.
The BLM works to protect wildlife habitats while maintaining the land for multiple public uses. BLM wildlife biologists, hydrologists, botanists, ecologists work to conserve habitats for animals and to protect endangered plant and animal species.
Click here to see how BLM employees help Idaho’s wildlife and public lands.