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Nature friendly backyard earns wildlife certification

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For most of us, a visit to the great outdoors involves a lengthy road trip, maps and planning; for Shannon Summerlin, however, it means walking out into her backyard.

Summerlin’s property in the Forums subdivision near FM 2499 and FM 1171 was recently named a certified wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation, and the Flower Mound resident said she encounters a variety of creatures on a weekly basis.

“We live on a pond and there is like 158 acres of urban forest behind the house,” Summerlin said. “We don’t own that acreage, but it’s called a Riparian habitat. To be a certified wildlife habitat, you have to have food, water, cover and a place for the wildlife to raise their young, and we have all of that on our property.

“I have a butterfly and hummingbird garden that I put in. I have bird feeders that I put out, so we try to help contribute to the wildlife coming to our yard as much as possible.”

Summerlin said she has seen a number of creatures on her property, including ducks, egrets, butterflies, raccoons, possums, turtles, coyotes and bobcats at different times.

The Flower Mound resident said one encounter stands out above the rest.

“The bobcat was pretty incredible,” Summerlin said. “A bobcat in Flower Mound, which has a population of about 60,000 is pretty interesting, especially considering we are two blocks away from the busiest intersection in town.”

With bobcats and coyotes coming onto her property on a regular basis, Summerlin said she has made a gruesome discovery or two, but said she is not concerned to go out into her yard at all.

“They’re more afraid of you than you are of them,” Summerlin said. “We’ve seen coyotes, and they’ll look at you and get skittish and run off.”

Summerlin said the wildlife habitat does not require any maintenance, either.

“We did enhance it with the hummingbird and butterfly garden and bird feeders,” Summerlin said. “But we have not had to put in any extra work.”

Summerlin said keeping her property pristine and maintaining its status as a certified wildlife habitat is important to her for a couple of reasons.

“I feel that it is important that we maintain our environment,” Summerlin said. “If you take care of your environment, it’ll take care of you. It seems like so many of the green spaces in Flower Mound are being developed, and I hope we don’t ever lose our tree city designation.

“If you don’t have a certain percentage of canopy, we could be at risk for losing that title, and that would be a shame.”

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