The C&O Canal National Historical Park includes many different habitats as it travels from the Coastal Plain of Washington, DC to the mountains around Cumberland. This includes a variety of water sources, preserved woodland, and different rock formations within the Park, which all provide excellent habitat for many animal species. Because of this, the C&O Canal, specifically the area around Great Falls, is one of the most biodiverse parks in the National Park System.
Please enjoy and observe wild animals from a distance. Photograph all wildlife from a safe distance. Use telephoto lenses and observe quietly. Animals can be very protective of their young and can become aggressive if cornered.
It is dangerous and illegal to feed wild animals, including ducks and geese, in national parks. Wildlife can become dependent on handouts and lose their ability to forage for food. Such animals can lose their fear of humans and become threatening.
Some animals found in the Park can carry rabies. If you encounter an animal that is acting strangely or an animal has attacked you, immediately report it to our emergency Dispatch Center, at 866-677-6677. Please visit the CDC website to learn more about rabies.
Raccoons are nocturnal hunters. A raccoon seen during the day is unusual, and might be a sign of rabies infection.
Several species of tick can also be found in the Park. The deer tick, also known as wood tick or black-legged tick, is known to carry and cause Lyme Disease. To prevent ticks, be sure to stay on trail and wear insect repellent. Please visit the CDC website to learn more about Lyme's disease and proper tick removal.
Pets must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet at all times. Loose or feral pets can disturb or kill wildlife and can also transmit and carry disease and environmental contaminants. Protective wildlife parents can be aggressive and could harm you or your pet. Keep wildlife and your pets safe by observing the leash law. Do not release any pets, including fish, turtles, lizards, and snakes, into the Park. This introduces non-native species to the Park, and can harm native animal species and transmit disease. Collecting any animals from within the Park is prohibited by law.
Help us keep wildlife wild!