Trails for everyone, forever

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

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

Posted by Erika Haugen-Goodman at Mar 21, 2017 04:29 PM |

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.

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.