Wildlife Viewing and Safety Tips
It can be hard to believe that a safe distance is as much about the animal’s welfare as it is about yours, but it’s true. Getting too close, feeding, and touching are all things that can put you and your furry, feathered, or scaled counterpart in grave danger. While Grand Canyon National Park is a conscientious partner for visitors, it also remains continuously committed to the protection and preservation of nature and wildlife.
Despite their good intentions, some visitors love park animals to death. As wildlife become used to humans and lose their natural fear, the animals become aggressive and may be destroyed. Although they may appear harmless and even curious about you, those little rock squirrels cause the most injuries to visitors. That’s partly why harassing or feeding any kind of wildlife, no matter how small or familiar, is illegal in all national parks.
We want all visitors to create lasting memories, so be safe and remember that distance always makes the heart grow fonder.
How close is too close?
While you may be committed to getting the perfect photo, stay at least 100 feet (30 meters) or about two bus lengths away from elk, deer, bighorn sheep, California Condors, and mountain lions. Keep at least 50 feet (15 meters) or about one bus-length away from other smaller wildlife like squirrels, birds, and reptiles. Keep Besides sharp teeth and claws, antlers and hooves are dangerous, so never underestimate the power of wildlife. Stay safe and never assume you are the one that can get away with a close encounter.
But, what if I really want the perfect photo?
The popularity of selfies and capturing any moment through photographs or video is posing a new threat to wildlife and humans. Trigger-happy tourists have started to provoke animals, and in some instances, alter their behaviors as a result. Quietly watching from a distance can be even more rewarding than getting the perfect shot. Perhaps you even came here to “get away” from a busy lifestyle and technology. So, use your zoom or a telephoto lens, or put your camera down and take a moment to really appreciate what you see.
See our How to View and Photograph Wildlife page for tips on how to get a great photo or video from a safe distance.
What if I want to get an animal’s attention?Calling, clicking, whistling or making noises of any kind to attract wildlife is illegal. Animals deserve to enjoy the park without disruption just as you do.
If there’s a group of people, is it safer to be near wildlife?
Whether it’s just you or 10 people, keep the long distance.
As crowds gather (as they often do), wildlife can quickly feel threatened and, in their panic, harm people. This is especially the case as people start to surround the animal(s), even if they are at the proper distance, because the wildlife may feel trapped. If people around you stop maintaining the 50 feet or 100 feet distance, don’t be afraid to speak up and remind your fellow visitors of the regulations. Sometimes, in the moment, anyone could use a gentle reminder that long-distance relationships with wildlife are better for everyone.
Last updated: August 1, 2017