Wildlife Viewing Ethics

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During a recent trip to the Everglades National Park I saw the “Wildlife Viewing Ethics” below that are applicable wherever we go.

Wildlife Viewing Ethics

Observing wild animals in their natural environment is a privilege. It is your responsibility to keep wildlife wild by being respectful of the animals and their habitat.

  • Give wildlife plenty of space. Binoculars and spotting scopes allow you to view wildlife without getting too close. Always give wildlife an avenue for retreat, and never chase any animal.
  • Learn to recognize signs of alarm. These are sometimes subtle, and they vary among species, but may include increased movements such as agitated flapping or pacing, heightened muscle tension, staring, or frequent vocalizations. If you sense that an animal is disturbed by your presence, back off. If it still does not resume its normal behaviors, please retreat and leave the area.
  • Be respectful of rookeries, nesting grounds, and denning areas. Well-meaning but intrusive visitors may cause parents to flee, leaving young vulnerable to the elements or to predators. Stay on designated trails whenever possible.
  • Leave “orphaned” or sick animals alone. Young animals that appear alone typically have parents waiting nearby.
  • Pets are not allowed on most trails in the park. Pets are allowed on a 6-foot (2-meter) leash in parking lots and campgrounds, but not on trails or in wilderness areas.
  • Do not feed wildlife. For their safety as well as yours, animals should eat only their natural foods. It is dangerous and illegal to feed or harass wildlife.
  • Tread lightly. If you choose to venture into the wilderness, remember that you are a guest in the homes of the animals you seek. Avoid disturbing sensitive habitats such as fragile wetlands.
  • Share the experience. Respect other park visitors. Be aware of other wildlife watchers and avoid unnecessarily marring their wildlife viewing opportunities and enjoyment.

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