Wildlife Viewing Tips that are Ethical & Responsible

Taken from Connecticut Wildlife January/February 2014

Wildlife watching is an activity you can participate in everyday-whether it is at birdfeeders in your backyard, during a visit to a local park, while taking a walk on the beach, or when on a hike in one of Connecticut’s state parks, forests or wildlife management areas. Our state has a diversity of habitats, from forests, grasslands, freshwater wetlands, lakes, rivers, salt marshes, sandy beaches, and more.  All of these places provide the perfect opportunity to observe wildlife.

Looking for wildlife can be fun-finding and observing wildlife is rewarding! Remember, however, that the “wild” in wildlife means that you may not always find what you are looking for. Either way, you will probably hear and find something during your adventure, maybe even something you were not expecting.

Wildlife Viewing Tips

Before starting out on your wildlife watching adventures, you might want to invest in a decent pair of binoculars [7×35 is a good, all -purpose option].  It also is best to research the animals you will be seeking.  The more you know about the particular animals, the more you will probably see them.  Use field guides, checklists, and other resources to help you identify wildlife and learn about their habits and habitats. Perfecting your knowledge, skills, patience, and experiences wil help you become a better wildlife watcher.  However, sometimes success just depends on being at the right place at the right time.  Success may be influenced by:

  • Season-some animals are only present during certain seasons;
  • Time of day-in general, wildlife is more active during the first and last hours of daylight;
  • Weather;
  • Condition or location of food, water cover;
  • Human disturbances [by you or someone else].

Viewing Ethics and Responsibilities

  • It is important to remember that your presence, even from a distance, may be causing stress or disturbance to the animals you are watching.
  • Remember we are considered predators to our wildlife. We haven’t given them any reason to trust us and often times we humans aren’t very kind and thoughtful to other species. Therefore wildlife is cautious around us.  Be respectful and remember they have a reason to live also.
  • Disturbance can be even more critical during the breeding/nesting seasons and during bad weather events [i.e., extreme cold or heat]. Put the needs and safety of wildlife first by:

Enjoying wildlife from a distance;

  • NOT feeding animals to get them to come closer; this is actually a very dangerous activity for the animals. You maybe a nice person wanting to feed the wildlife but you are putting wildlife in jeopardy by doing this. You may have honorable motives but another human might not and so the animal might trust you and mistakenly trust some other human that wants to harm it.
  • Never chasing or harassing animals [be sure to leave dogs at home];
  • Not picking up “abandoned” or sick wildlife. [Wild animals rarely abandon their young. The adults are most likely nearby, waiting for you to leave.]
  • Along with respecting wildlife, you should also respect landowners and other outdoor users.  Always ask for permission to access private land and leave it as you found it [i.e., remove trash, close gates, don’t deface anyones property and don’t hurt any of the wildlife.]  Be considerate when approaching animals that are already being viewed by others. You do not want to frighten the animal away and ruin someone else’s viewing experience.  Be aware that others are recreating in the same area – hikers, hunters, anglers, and paddlers, to name a few.

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