After a long Winter of being indoors, looking out the windows, watching rain and snow, it’s a welcome relief to get outside and discover the world around you.
My advice to you: Get outdoors and take the time to see what’s around you. Interacting with nature is the best food for the soul. Knowing how to do so properly and safely, is key. Especially with wildlife.
How to watch wildlife safely
Always treat wildlife with proper caution and respect. The safety of these animals, as well as your safety, depends on everyone using good judgment and following these simple guidelines.
- Give them respect. The animals you see in the wild, are wild. Don’t give them food (they can get their own, thank you). Don’t try to pet them (you may get bitten, or worse, attacked), and my all means, keep your distance from them. Take binnoculars if you want to see them up close.
- Drive safely. Watch where you are going. No texting, no talking on the phone. A deer may cross the road right in front of you, and you need to be alert enough to put on your brakes.
- Do not disturb. Even when you’re farther away, leaving wildlife alone can help your viewing experience—plus it’s the law. It’s illegal to feed, touch, tease, frighten, or intentionally disturb wildlife. R
- Store your food and stash your trash. . To an animal, anything that smells like food is treated like food. Access to trash, and even crumbs left on picnic tables can attract them. Keep a clean picnic area or campsite, and store your food and dispose of garbage in the proper containers. Use wildlife-resistant food storage or trash containers where available or required and make sure they’re securely closed.
- See something, say something. Tell a ranger if you come into physical contact with wildlife. Also, tell a ranger if you see wildlife that are sick, dead, or acting strangely, including wildlife that approach you. And when you see people who aren’t following these guidelines, let them know what they can do to be a smart wildlife watcher, too, and contact a ranger if necessary.
- Be responsible. Ultimately, staying safe and keeping wildlife wild is up to you! When you go out into a national park, it’s your responsibility to keep yourself, your family, and the wildlife safe.