Wildlife Viewing Etiquette

Southern Leopard Frog

Observing wildlife in their natural habitat is a privilege. It is your responsibility to keep the wildlife wild by being respectful of all wildlife and their habitats when visiting the refuge. If you see someone feeding, harassing, creating an unsafe situation, or other wildlife violation, please report it to Federal Wildlife Officers by calling 1-800-307-5789.

Wildlife Viewing Etiquette

Here are some tips that everyone should follow when observing wildlife:

Resist the temptation to feed wildlife
When you feed wildlife, the animal begins to recognize that they can receive food from humans. This can cause the animal to begin approaching humans on sight, instead of fleeing. This poses a threat to animals and could deem them as a ‘nuisance’ animal.

View from a distance
Visitors should appreciate wildlife from a distance and do their best to minimize all forms of disturbance.

  • Do not pursue wildlife.
  • Give wildlife plenty of space with a wide escape route.
  • Invest in a zoom lens, binoculars, or a spotting scope to view wildlife up close.
  • If a wild animal changes its behavior, you are too close.
  • Follow the “Rule of Thumb”. With your arm extended and making a “thumbs up” sign, if you can cover the entire animal with your thumb, you are likely at a comfortable viewing distance for both you and wildlife.
  • Wildlife can be disturbed in ways other than proximity such as flash photography, loud noises, and rapid movements

Be respectful of sensitive areas
Rookeries and nesting areas exist on the refuge. Visitors who are wanting a closer look may cause parents or young to flee or become separated, which leaves their young vulnerable to lurking predators and other dangers.

Respect other visitors
Be aware that other visitors enjoy watching wildlife, too. Please enhance the experience and enjoyment of the refuge for others by showing mutual respect.

Wildlife harassment is a crime
Harassment is defined as the disruption of natural behavioral patterns, which include, but are not limited to, breeding, feeding, or sheltering. Violators are subject to:

  • Up to one year in jail
  • Up to a $100,000 fine

Treat others with respect
Disturbing, molesting, or interfering with any employee of the United States or of any local or State government engaged in official business, or with any private person engaged in the pursuit of an authorized activity on any national wildlife refuge is prohibited.

Please report all suspicious activity or violations of the law by calling 1-800-307-5789.

Thank you for respecting wildlife,
The Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge