The north offers some of the most spectacular wildlife viewing opportunities in the world. Over 400 species of birds and 100 species of mammals are known to habitat or migrate here. Excellent wildlife viewing for species such as grizzly bear, moose, caribou, bald eagles and marine life can be had with ease and in numbers unknown in most other areas of North America. We hope you will respect these wild animals and help maintain high quality wildlife viewing experiences for others in the future.
Benefits For Both You and Local Wildlife
Following appropriate wildlife viewing etiquette increase your chances of getting a really good look at a wild animal, a great photograph, and discover a wildlife experience of a lifetime.
Following these practices will also ensure that wildlife continue to use important habitat areas and produce more of their own. People who enjoy watching and photographing wildlife can sometimes harm wildlife unintentionally. Most animals react with alarm when approached by humans on foot or in any type of vehicle. Depending on the situation, an animal may remain, flee, or in some cases, attack.
Such reactions are stressful and cause the animal to expend energy. Although an animal might easily compensate for the energy lost in a single, short disturbance, prolonged or repeated disturbances may add up to higher costs than an animal can afford. Repeated disturbance may cause wildlife to avoid an area, even if the area provides the best food, nesting site, or source of essential minerals. Even a single disturbance during nesting season might be harmful to sensitive species such as loons.
Tips for Wildlife Viewing
Observe animals from the distance they consider safe.
Approach wild animals slowly and quietly and avoid sudden movements.
Under no circumstances use attraction devices.
Avoid chasing or harassing animals under any circumstances.
Learn wild animal signals that tell you that you are too close. This is your signal to sit or stand quietly or move slowly away. You may lose the chance for a prize winning picture but gain the unique experience of viewing a wild animal behaving naturally, undisturbed by humans.
Just For Fish
If fishing, our ethics insist on only keeping a minimum for consumption during your tour! Avoid trampling stream banks! If at all possible, view spawning salmon from the bank of a stream and avoid walking among the reeds or kicking up silt upstream from the fish.
Signs that you are too close to a fish:
- Fish abandon spawning redds (depressions in the stream bed dug by the fish) and move to deeper water or under cutbanks.
- Fish act reluctant to move back onto spawning redds.
- Spawning behavior stops. Fish may remain over reeds, but interactions between fish stop.
More information About Fishing.
Just For Birds
- Always view any nesting species from a distance. Large masses of sticks in the tops of tall, broken topped trees along the coastline are often the obvious nests made by bald eagles. You may spot other nests as well. Avoid nests and never handle eggs or young.
- Do not handle baby birds. People often find young fledgling birds that have just left the nest. Do not move these birds often they are near the nest and their parents know how to find them!
- Leave injured birds where you find them. These birds seldom survive in captivity.
- Use binoculars or a spotting scope to avoid disturbing birds. Be aware of the bird’s behavior and watch for clues that you might be disrupting normal behavior.
Signs that you are too close to birds:
- Repeated flushing.
- Raised head, looking at observers.
- Excessive preening or pecking at dirt or foot, bill wiping.
- Alarm calls, repeated chirping and chipping.
- Broken wing distraction display.
Just For Mammals
- Avoid pursuing animals for photographs. Use telephoto lenses to photograph wildlife at a distance. Remember that those prize winning photographs seen in magazines are often taken by professional photographers who spend thousands of dollars on specialized telephoto equipment and have had years of experience.
- Be especially careful around females with young. Disturbing them can cause unnecessary expenditures of energy. Females are generally very protective of their young getting too close can put you in a dangerous predicament. Leave injured animals where you find them.
- Use binoculars or spotting scopes to get those close up views. Learn the behavioral cues that you are disrupting behavior.
Signs that you are too close to mammals:
- Head raised high, ears pointed in the direction of the observer.
- Skittishness, the animal jumps at sounds or movements.
- Animal moves away or lowers head with ears back in preparation for a charge, erect hairs on neck and shoulders.
- Displays of aggression or nervous behavior.
Signs that you are too close to marine mammals:
- A rapid change in direction or speed.
- Escape tactics such as prolonged diving or fleeing into the water from a haulout or rookery.
- Underwater course changes.
- Underwater exhalations.
- Evasive swimming patterns.
- Interruptions of feeding or migratory activities.
- Aggressive postures or charges directed at intruders.
- Attempts to shield a calf or pup from a human observer or a vessel.
- Vocalizations, finning, tail lobbing, tail raking, or breaching.
- Avoid encircling or herding marine mammals and coming between members of a pod or group, especially between a female and its young.
- Avoid pursuing a marine mammal.
- Avoid causing a marine mammal to abandon regularly used areas.
Should you try to get closer? The National Marine Fisheries Service in the State of Alaska has made the following recommendations:
- Avoid an intentional approach within 90 metres (100 yards) if you are in a vessel less than 30 metres (100 feet long).