Wildlife Etiquette

Many make the trek to see the wide array of wildlife found in Alaska. The state is a biologist's heaven with hundreds of bizarre and rare species of creatures big and small. Many animals that are endangered in the rest of the world are quite populous in Alaska.

It is important to know how to handle yourself when you're around wildlife. If you are careful and respectful towards animals, you will have a safe and splendid viewing experience. However, if you aren't cautious, you could get seriously hurt, or hurt the environment around you. Here are a few tips for enjoying wildlife.

Image:
a bus on a roadside observing caribou
Two caribou in Denali National Park & Preserve
NPS KENT MILLER

Never feed or approach wildlife

Feeding or approaching wildlife can cause problems for both humans and the animals. Wild animals that learn to associate humans with food often become dependent. Their behavioral changes may lead to property damage and human injury. Also, for the animals, it may mean negative health effects, dependence on a seasonable unreliable food source, and greater susceptibility to predators and vehicle collisions.

Keep your distance


Generally, try to remain a safe and respectful distance of 25-100 yards from animals (300 yards from bears). Use binoculars or zoom lenses to get a closer look.

Image:
moose walking in a river
A moose with her young at Exit Glacier NPS

Limit the time spent observing animals

Encounters with people can be stressful to animals and can alter their normal behaviors.

Stay clear of mothers with young

Mother's with young are very protective and will react if felt threatened.

Resist the temptation to "save" animals, especially "orphans"

Young animals are rarely very far from their mothers. It's mother is usually watching from a safe distance. If an animal appears sick, or in need of help leave it alone and contact a Park Ranger or Fish and Game.

 

Image:
photo of a porcupine
a porcupine
NPS

Do not surround, crowd, or follow an animal


It could result in injury to you or the animal.

Keep pets on a leash or leave them at home

 

Properly store food and dispose of trash


Use a food locker or container, store food in your vehicle. Put trash in a bear proof trash can or recycle container, and never over-fill garbage cans.

Leave the area cleaner than you found it

Learn to recognize signs of alarm

Sometimes these signs are not always obvious. If you see anything that suggest alarm, leave. Report wildlife problems to a Park Ranger or Fish and Game.

Image:
photo of a gypsy moth on a tree
Gypsy Moth
ADF&G

Invasive Species are a real threat to Alaska's natural ecosystems. They compete with native species and take over habitats and resources. They can be managed more efficiently when they are first found in a new area. To learn more about the species in Alaska and what to do to prevent further infestation please visit our Invasive Species page.