Department of Environmental Conservation

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Wildlife Viewing Tips

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Viewing wildlife is fun, exciting and educational. Here are some helpful tips on how to be a wildlife-friendly observer.

Watch a clip about wildlife photography and check out other clips on DEC's YouTube Channel.

Keep your distance

A couple on a raised boardwalk watching wildlife

Coming too close to an animal will cause them stress. They may become aggressive and dangerous or they may just run. In some cases they may abandon their young.

Stay quiet and be patient

Move slowly and quietly and avoid sudden movements to increase your chances of seeing wildlife and to avoid stressing the animals you watch.

Do not feed wildlife

Human food can harm or even kill an animal. Wildlife used to human handouts is more likely to get hit by cars and cause problems around campgrounds and homes.

Stay away from wildlife that appears abandoned or sick

A fawn curled up in the grass
This fawn may look abandoned, but
it's probably not.

In most cases their parents are nearby, waiting for you to leave the area. If you think an animal is in trouble contact local authorities for help.

Hands off

Do not collect or touch plants or animals. Take only pictures and leave behind what you find.

Stay on the path

Going off the path can damage the natural habitat and sensitive vegetation.

Pick up litter

Leave wildlife habitat in better condition than you found it.

Use the right tools

A young boy looking through binoculars
The right tools can make your
experience even better.

A field guide, pair of binoculars and spotting scope, camera, and proper clothing and shoes can enhance your trip and viewing experience.

Learn about wildlife

Read about their habitat, their appearance, and learn calls and signs to have better luck at finding and seeing wildlife.

Choose your season

Many species of wildlife appear only during certain seasons at various sites. They may migrate in the spring or fall, breed or nest in specific locations for the summer, or hibernate in the winter.

Watch at dusk and dawn

This is when most wildlife is active.

Respect private property

Ask permission before going on private property and honor the rights of landowners. Be sure to thank them for letting you enter their property.

Leave pets home

Pets can chase away or harm wildlife.