Snellville woman has wildlife sanctuary in backyard

SNELLVILLE -- One local woman has turned her backyard into a wildlife sanctuary -- and she's got the papers to prove it.

Christine Haigler went through the National Wildlife Federation to have property behind her home designated as an official wildlife habitat.

According to a document released last week by the organization, Haigler's land "attracts a variety of birds, butterflies and other local animals by providing a wildlife-friendly landscape."

Haigler said she applied for the designation as a means of honoring the countless birds, possums, honeybees, chipmunks and squirrels that have made her backyard a home.

"The reason I wanted to do it, it recognizes you for your efforts in maintaining the property," Haigler said.

"It's just kind of fun to have that recognition, especially with the National Wildlife Federation ... it's really neat," she said.

According to a news release, the organization began its Certified Wildlife Habitat program in 1973. It has since certified almost 150,000 habitats nationwide.

"The majority of these sites represent the hard work and commitment of individuals and families providing habitat near their homes," stated David Mizejewski, NWF naturalist and spokesman.

In order to become certified, a property must provide four basic elements: food, water, cover and places to raise young animals.

In addition to providing for wildlife, certified habitats conserve natural resources by reducing or eliminating the need for fertilizers, pesticides and/or irrigation water, "which ultimately protects the air, soil and water throughout communities."

For more information, visit www.nwf.org/gardenforwildlife, or call 1 (800) 822-9919.