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Wildlife Watching Etiquette

Wildlife viewing

NPS public domain, edited by John Ame

  • Adjust your behavior to protect wildlife. Watch or photograph animals without knowingly disturbing, chasing, or repeatedly flushing the animal in alarm. Keep a respectful distance from nests and young, especially in hot, cold, or windy weather.
  • Protect the natural surroundings. Stay on existing roads, trails, or pathways to protect fragile ground cover. Leave the area as you found it (including gates).
  • Respect the rights of others. Know and observe the laws, rules, and regulations governing the site. Get prior permission to enter private or posted property. Be considerate of others around you.
  • Observers in groups have added responsibility. Remember that group actions have magnified effects. Inform others in your group about these guidelines and monitor so all behave responsibly.
  • Don't tolerate unethical viewing behavior. If you witness inconsiderate or harmful viewing etiquette, assess the situation and intervene if prudent. Otherwise, document it in detail and promptly notify appropriate authorities.
  • Don't pick up a young animal. It's safe to assume its mother left it there temporarily and will return.
  • If you find a nestling bird on the ground, gently and quickly return it to the nest.
  • Teach children to leave young wildlife alone.
  • If you believe an animal or bird is in danger or seriously hurt, call a local office of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), Audubon Society or Oregon State Police.


ODFW and USDA Forest Service.

Compiled by John Ame, Science Writer