“People who ignore these rules are risking their lives and threatening the park experience for everyone else”. 

-Dan Wenk, Yellowstone’s superintendent 

There have been a few stories in the news lately with people encountering wild animals at national parks across the country, so we figured now would be a good time to stress the importance of following park regulations in relation to the animals within the park.

You may have heard some of these stories – first, there was the man who was arrested in Yellowstone after he hopped out of his car and taunted a bison in the road. Park regulations require visitors to stay at least 25 yards from animals like bison and elk. He was sentenced to 130 days in jail, not to mention publicly ridiculed across the country.

There was also the story of the man who was caught on a live stream attempting to take a selfie with wild bears at Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park in Alaska. Park rangers say he violated National Park Service wildlife viewing regulations which prohibits anyone from coming within 50 yards of feeding bears. He and the rest of his group are facing charges of reckless endangerment and harassing wildlife.

To help, we’ve compiled a few tips from the National Parks System and the National Parks Conservation Agency wildlife experts on how you can keep both yourself and these animals safe.

  1. Don’t feed the wildlife

Animals who get fed by humans are more likely to come back for more and can become aggressive. Store your food away (like in your RV or car), don’t leave it out at the campsite or in trash bags when you leave during the day or overnight. Clean up after yourself and use bear-proof containers if needed.

 

  1. Bring Your Zoom Lens

We know how important those up-close photos can seem, we all want to be the star of social media. Instead of getting close to the animals to grab these shots, invest in a lens with a zoom. This way you can stay the correct amount of distance away and still get the money shot.

 

  1. Carry bear spray on independent hikes

If you are exploring the habitat of large predators on foot independently, make sure to carry protection with you. This spray has an extremely high success rate in deterring a bear attack, but surprisingly most hikers don’t carry it.

 


In addition, always be aware of park rules and regulations. Rangers will know what is best for the natural habitat and can provide tips to keep yourself safe and preserve the habitat for the animals in that park.

We love our national parks and we want to preserve the land and its animals for our kids and their grandkids, and their grandkids’ grandkids. Please help by doing your part in this mission.

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