I have been fortunate to see a moose on four different occasions since I’ve moved to the Adirondacks. I’ve only seen one bald eagle. My family jokes that I’m a bald eagle repellent as they seem to see bald eagles as frequently as I see squirrels. That said, if my children tell me there is a bald eagle over the nearby river, if possible, I am in my car hoping to catch a glimpse. I’m in awe of the wildlife experiences I have and am grateful for each one.
I bring my camera everywhere and certainly appreciate anyone else who wants to witness one of the many wonderful wildlife residents of the Adirondack Park. I don’t appreciate when people start treating Adirondack wildlife as if they were zoo animals.
I’ve had friends relay stories about how they almost hit people that have gotten out of their cars to admire wildlife. In 2012 a moose was loitering around Wilmington and caused a traffic jam of onlookers resulting in the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) euthanizing the animal. (It was in very poor health and also a safety concern). Recently at Yellowstone Park a crowd of people encroached on the space of a wild bison and a young child was injured. Those crowded wildlife situations happen right here in the Adirondacks.
One concern I have is sharing wildlife locations on social media. I’ve seen plenty of posts of people immediately announcing the location of various wildlife. Although I always appreciate the beautiful photos, I talk with my friends about not tagging the locations of the animals they see. These are easily shared and can go viral, leading to the kind of notable crowding that recently occurred at the “poppy apocalypse” in California.
Again, I’m not asking people to never tell their friends about wildlife sightings, or ask where they saw or can see wildlife. I’m suggesting that perhaps it be done more privately.
Nor am I trying to tell anyone to not seek wildlife experiences. It is one of the many joys of being in the Adirondacks. But be smart about our new social media environment. Be safe by parking off the road as much as possible. And please, give wildlife plenty of space. This is the Adirondacks, not a zoo.
The 6th Leave No Trace Principle, “Respect Wildlife” says, in part:
Learn about wildlife through quiet observation. Do not disturb wildlife or plants just for a “better look.” Observe wildlife from a distance so they are not scared or forced to flee. Large groups often cause more damage to the environment and can disturb wildlife so keep your group small. If you have a larger group, divide into smaller groups if possible to minimize your impacts.
Quick movements and loud noises are stressful to animals. Travel quietly and do not pursue, feed or force animals to flee. (One exception is in bear country where it is good to make a little noise so as not to startle the bears.) In hot or cold weather, disturbance can affect an animal’s ability to withstand the rigorous environment. Do not touch, get close to, feed or pick up wild animals. It is stressful to the animal, and it is possible that the animal may harbor rabies or other diseases.
Read more about Leave No Trace principals HERE.
Photo: Paddlers disturb nesting loons in 2013 at Limekiln Lake (courtesy the Biodiversity Research Institute’s Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation).