***Originally posted to @publiclandshateyou on 5/5/2019***
It’s springtime in the northern hemisphere, and in many areas that means all the creatures we share this planet with are rearing the next generation of their species. It also means that many people will be headed to our public lands to catch a glimpse of these cute animals, and unfortunately many of them will make poor choices that harm those animals.
Although it’s tempting to get just a little bit closer for a slightly better picture, please consider the possible implications. Will the parents be scared off, leaving this baby defenseless to predators? Will this animal become habituated to human contact, possibly putting its life, and the life of humans, at risk in the future? Could this animal be scared out of its home into an unsafe area?
While visiting our public lands everyone has a responsibly to know the rules and act responsibly. And yes, the rules do apply to you. Think you can get on the cover of National Geographic with your iPhone picture of a bear cub if you can get just a littllllle bit closer? Think again. If you want a quality shot invest the money in a proper camera, telephoto lens, and tripod. Maintain a respectful distance and don’t approach the animals.
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.
The recommended respectful distance varies widely animal to animal so do some research. Or even better, chat with a ranger or land manager as they are excellent resources who can provide information to help protect yourself and these animals. These professionals have a wealth of knowledge about the local ecology, much of which you may have no idea about.
This post is obviously not a be all, end all resource for interacting with wildlife. It’s intended to provoke thought about how people interact with wildlife and encourage them to educate themselves. Being respectful to our public lands and wildlife isn’t hard. It just requires thinking about the impacts of your actions beyond yourself.