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  • Writer's picturePublic Lands Hate You

Leave No Trace Principle #6 – Respect Wildlife

***Posted to the @PublicLandsHateYou Instagram account on 9/8/2019***

Leave No Trace Principle #6 – Respect Wildlife

Our public lands might be where we go to recreate and relax on weekends and vacations, but they are also home to wild animals who live there year round. Wildlife doesn’t have the option to hide in a 73 degree house during a blizzard. They live in these places no matter the weather, the season, or the number of visitors, and so we must do our part to respect these animals.

Be mindful of the impact you have on wildlife. Remember, this is their home, and they know it better than you do. Wildlife will likely be aware of your presence before you are aware of theirs, and they will often make a changes to their daily life to avoid human contact. In many extreme environments this can impact animal’s ability to collect enough sustenance to survive. Remember, wildlife can’t just drive down to Taco Bell for dinner like we can.

So how can we lessen our impact? Travel in small groups. Minimize excess noise. Talk quietly. Store food securely. Don’t feed wildlife or leave food scraps behind. Don’t approach wildlife once you become aware of them. Camp at least 200’ from water sources, especially in desert areas, to allow wildlife unhindered access.

When you do see wildlife, observe respectfully from a distance. Don’t try to sneak up for a better view or picture. Think you can get on the cover of National Geographic with your iPhone picture of a bear cub if you can get just a little bit closer? Think again. If you want a quality shot invest the money in a proper camera, telephoto lens, and tripod.

Wild animals should NEVER be tempted with food to get them to come closer as it habituates wild animals to human food and human contact. Not only does that impact the health of the animal for numerous reasons, but it also puts you at risk in that moment and other people at risk in the future.

Unsure if you’re too close? Follow the rule of thumb: if you can cover the entire wild animal with your thumb you’re at a safe distance. This distance is usually 25 yards from most wildlife and 100 yards from large wildlife. If you are influencing the animal’s behavior you are already too close.

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1 Comment

Amber M
Amber M
Aug 04, 2021

My mother owns property in Oklahoma and with her age she can't walk the whole 80 acres. I've been walking that forest since I was 7 and I still do. I HAVE to because of trespassers, poachers and litter bugs. The trash and harm to the environment has been rising and it feels like an unwinnable war; however, finding this website makes me feel less alone when it comes to protecting the environment and animals. Thank you all for what you do and for raising awareness. Is there a Facebook page to follow? I refuse to make an Instagram account as I think it would drive me up the wall. Facebook does it enough, I don't need more social media…

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