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No Matter How Cute They Are, Don't Feed the Wildlife

Posted by Erika Haugen-Goodman at Mar 21, 2017 04:29 PM |
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Spring is a busy time for wildlife. Here are a few reasons why it's important to give animals plenty of space.

For hikers, there are few things more enjoyable than spotting unique wildlife on trail. Whether you catch sight of a common bird, a cute pika or something more rare like a bear, giving animals plenty of space is important for more than just your own safety.

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Resist feeding birds and other wildlife, even if they beg. Photo by Matthew Kerby

Here’s why:

  • Getting too close to an animal can disturb its natural behavior. This is especially harmful if the animal learns to associate humans with food.
  • There may be more than meets the eye. During nesting season, animals can become anxious if you approach their young—even if those babies are hidden from view.
  • Loud noises and sudden movements can put stress on animals.
  • Getting a better look at wildlife often means going off trail—and damaging foliage and sensitive areas.

One of the best ways to enjoy wildlife from a distance is to carry binoculars or a telephoto lens for your camera. That way you can still get a close look without disturbing their natural behaviors—and help ensure that animals will continue to inhabit those areas in the future.

This piece originally appeared in the Mar+Apr 2017 issue of Washington Trails Magazine. Support trails as a member of WTA to get your one-year subscription to the magazine.

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