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Respect Virginia's Wildlife!

Tips for Responsible Wildlife Viewing

Wildlife Watchers Creed

(Adopted by the National Partners in Watchable Wildlife)

We, as wildlife watchers, will put the needs and safety of wildlife first, conserve wildlife and habitats, and respect the rights of others. We will seek wildlife watching experiences that reward us with the gift of seeing animals behaving naturally in their own environments. Recognizing the importance of learning specific codes of ethics for observing birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and insects in the wild, we will adhere to these guiding principles:

  1. Increase your viewing opportunities by:
    • using binoculars, spotting scopes and viewing blinds for a closer view
    • moving slowly and quietly to increase your chances of seeing wildlife and minimize disturbance to wildlife
    • passing up scented lotions, perfumes or colognes which can broadcast your presence
    • staying clear of nests and dens so parents will not abandon young and predators will not be attracted by your presence
    • recognizing wildlife alarm signals and behavior changes that mean you are too close
    • avoiding artificial calls and lures which disrupt natural animal behavior
    • resisting the urge to offer human food, which can cause harm to animals or cause them to become aggressive
    • leaving baby birds and animals where you find them as the parents are probably close by
  2. Film and photograph wildlife responsibly by:
    • using a telephoto lens from a viewing blind or a vehicle
    • avoiding the urge to chase, herd, flush or make noises
    • leaving plants, trees and other natural features alone
    • encouraging photo and film editors to adopt ethical standards that include lens size of published photos, depicting wildlife as part of a natural environment, and identifying photos of captured wildlife
  3. Be considerate of others by:
    • asking permission to watch or photograph wildlife on private land
    • observing all rules and regulations
    • closing gates and returning property to the condition it was in when you arrived
    • waiting your turn to view or photograph animals when sharing a viewing area
    • leaving your pets at home or in the cars
    • staying on trails and roads to minimize your impact on the environment
    • pulling off the road as far as possible when you are watching wildlife and being aware of local traffic
  4. Be a responsible wildlife landlord by:
    • keeping feeders, nest structures and other artificial wildlife environments that you provide clean and disease free
    • ensuring that the wildlife you attract to your yard are not exposed to predation from cats and other domestic animals, or dangers posed by artificial hazards such as waste antifreeze or windows
    • remembering that when you feed wildlife, you feed ALL the wildlife in your area, not just the songbirds
  5. Increase your enjoyment and involvement by:
    • researching your trips ahead of time
    • participating in wildlife and habitat conservation projects in your area
    • helping others to become responsible wildlife watchers
    • consulting your local wildlife agency for specific guidelines on ethical wildlife watching, filming and photography

Good luck!

Parts of this document were taken from:

Watchable Wildlife, Inc. Wildlife Watcher's Code of Ethics and the American Birding Association's Principles of Birding Ethics.

More Information

For more information, contact:

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
4010 West Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23230-1104
email: brian.moyer@dgif.virginia.gov