Hiking and camping aren't the only ways to enjoy our State Parks. Many species of wildlife roam the woods, often just on the other side of a tree or under a log. Sometimes deer or elk will cross the trails just in front of you, or forage in an open meadow. Maybe a pileated woodpecker will excavate insects in a tree above your head. Chance encounters with wildlife are amazing and enriching experiences.
To ensure wildlife are not unduly disturbed while you enjoy observing them, please adjust your behavior. The parks are their home, and they have nowhere to flee if human visitors (and their canine pals) are too friendly. These tips make sure wildlife can stay relaxed:
- 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.
- 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.
- If you witness inconsiderate or harmful viewing etiquette, document it in detail and promptly notify appropriate authorities.
PLEASE DO NOT FEED WILDLIFE!
Providing artificial food sources may lead to unnaturally large concentrations of animals and increase the spread of disease and attract predatory animals. It can also lead to habituation, and while it may seem cute for that squirrel to nibble from your hand, this drastically increases the chances the squirrel may bite. When wildlife become a nuisance due to habitation, often the only recourse is lethal. Please protect the wildlife - don't feed them.
If you have seen an unusual or rare species, let us know! Contact Vanessa Blackstone, the wildlife biologist. Helpful information includes species, date, time, and general location in the park (a map or GPS coordinates, if available).
Before taking a trip to a park, download these lists so you can keep track of the fauna you run into: