Every year, dozens of people get hurt or even die while harassing wildlife throughout the national park system, or wildlife has to be killed as a result of human interaction. To put it mildly, the National Park Service is a bit fed up with the average visitor’s lack of common sense, so they turned to humor to try and get our attention. Last week on the National Park Service Facebook page, they posted this entertaining image of how to pet a bison. In other words, don’t.
Observing wildlife is a great part of the national park experience, but doing so safely, for both you and the animal, is key. On the National Park Service website, you can find their “7 Ways to Safely Watch Wildlife” instructions. The general gist of it is as follows:
- Do your research beforehand and understand the park rules in terms of what wildlife you might encounter, rules for viewing the animals safely, food storage requirements, etc.
- So many bears and deer die each year from vehicle strikes so slow down and keep your eyes on the road. If you want to gape at the glory of El Capitan, pull over and get out of your car. But please DON’T get out of your car to go snap a selfie with some bison.
- Stay a safe distance away from the animals. Most parks require you remain at least 25 to 100 yards away, depending on the animal.
- It’s amazing this needs to be spelled out but don’t feed, touch, tease, or intentionally disturb an animal.
- When away from your campsite or even your car, store all your food and trash in the animal-proof containers provided.
- If you do come into contact with wildlife, see an animal that is behaving weirdly or one that you are worried about, by all means don’t stick it in the back of your car. Contact a ranger instead.
- Take responsibility for yourself and your family to keep everyone and every animal safe.