In an effort to create more natural habitat for wildlife around the state, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources is encouraging landowners to join its Wild Yards program.

The program, which has 300 members around the state, recognizes the efforts of landowners who landscape for wildlife use.

“We want to encourage private citizens, whether they have a little bit of property or own a lot of land, to help wildlife thrive by providing them with food, water, shelter and space,” said Jim Fregonara, a WVDNR wildlife biologist.

Joining the Wild Yards program is easy. Fregonara says landowners who apply and provide a habitat plan and demonstrate that their property meets the needs of native wildlife will be certified and added to a state-wide register of wild yards. Successful applicants also receive a certificate designating them as a participant in the program and a sign post to display in their yard.

“It’s such a wonderful program to get involved in,” said Rebecca Linger, who owns a certified wild yard. “And you get the added benefit of creating an environment around your house where you can enjoy seeing wildlife coming and going. It really is delightful.”

To learn more about ways you can participate in wildlife conservation, visit To request a Wild Yards information packet and application, contact the WVDNR Wildlife Diversity Program at 304-637-0245.