Tips for SAFELY and RESPONSIBLY Viewing and Photographing Wildlife


Many refuge visitors acknowledge that black bears can be dangerous; however, most visitors do not realize just how dangerous bears can be or how serious the consequences of the mere presence of people near bears or other wildlife can be.  First, bears are not the only wildlife that are dangerous to people on NC Refuges. Second, wildlife/people interactions are also very dangerous for wildlife. Third, disturbing wildlife on a national wildlife refuge is against the law.

National wildlife refuges are for WILDLIFE FIRST. Basically, if we see or even suspect there is potential for a dangerous wildlife/people interaction, we will close the area to the public.  One of our missions is to provide wildlife viewing and photography opportunities.  However, our highest priority is to protect wildlife.  By closing the area, we are reducing the probability there will be a dangerous interaction.

If your presence elicits a change in the physical behavior of the critter, you are too close!  If it moves away from you, moves toward you, makes noises, shows any threatening posture, you are simply too close. You should slowly, but immediately, back away.

Failure to provide plenty of space between you and the animal puts you at risk for serious injury or death, it puts the animal at risk for serious injury or death, and it causes Refuge staff to close areas to keep everything and everybody safer.


    Bearwise helps people live responsibly with black bears.

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  • Be Safe with Black Bears

    Excellent tips from the British Columbia Conservation Foundation

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  • Wildlife Safety Tips for Enjoying the Great Outdoors

    US Fish and Wildlife Service - Here are a few tips to follow while exploring wild places:

    • Be aware of your surroundings and what animals may be present that could pose a threat in that environment.
    • Never feed wild animals, even squirrels or chipmunks. Keep them wild and don’t risk attracting predators.
    • If you are camping, keep the area clean: wash all cooking and eating utensils after use and store left over food in airtight containers.
    • Report any wildlife attacks to 911.

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  • How to Get Kids to Respect Wildlife



    National Geographic - 

    How to Get Kids to Respect Wildlife

    Children who respect wildlife as something worthy of care and protection aren’t just mini environmental stewards. They also grow up kinder and more considerate. Help foster those traits with these ideas from Nat Geo Family.




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  • Basic Tips for Safety - How to stay safe around wild animals



     National Geographic -  How to stay safe around wild animals

    Beyond common sense, there are few simple rules for enjoying wildlife that can prevent dangerous encounters.





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  • Tips for Photographing Wildlife

     National Geographic - 

    Please don't feed the animals.

    In addition to knowing your surroundings and keeping a distance, one of the best things you can do to prevent negative wildlife encounters is to keep your food to yourself.  "A fed bear is a dead bear" doesn't just apply to bears!









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  • Why people risk their lives for the ultimate animal selfie

    National Geographic 

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