Wildlife Safety

Olympic provides wonderful opportunities to view animals in their natural habitat. Along with this opportunity come risks and responsibilities for park visitors. If you are fortunate enough to see wildlife during your visit, do not approach, startle, or feed the animal. Feeding or harassing wildlife is strictly prohibited in the park and subject to fines.

An image of a person standing at a safe distance from wildlife

All park wildlife are potentially dangerous to humans and can sometimes be unpredictable.

Here are some basic guidelines that may help lessen the threat of danger and will help to keep wildlife wild:

  • Observe wildlife from a distance. All wildlife is protected in the park. Park regulations require that all visitors maintain a distance of at least 50 yards (half the length of a football field) between themselves and any park wildlife. Do not approach wildlife. If an animal approaches closer than 50 yards, move away to maintain the minimum required distance of separation.
  • Never feed wild animals. This includes all park animals: birds, squirrels, marmots, deer, elk, otters etc., not just bears. Learning to beg for and/or rely on human foods is extremely harmful for all wild animals, big or small. Be careful not to leave wrappers, crumbs, or other food trash after picnicking or snacking on the trails. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers. Feeding wildlife can also increase risks to you and other visitors.
  • Keep children and pets close. Keep children within your immediate sight at all times; keep pets on leash or in carriers.
  • Avoid wildlife during sensitive times.This includes times when animals are mating, nesting, raising young, and during the winter.
  • Avoid setting up camp on or near game trails. Hike and camp away from obvious animal paths, water sources, and signs like droppings or claw marks.
  • Store food properly and keep your camp clean. Cook and eat away from your sleeping area. Store your food by locking it in your vehicle or using a bear-proof storage container when in frontcountry campsites. When camping in wilderness areas of the park, all food, garbage, and scented items such as toothpaste, deodorant, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, and chapstick, must be stored in bear canisters, hung from park bear wires, or hung at least 12 feet high and 10 feet out from the nearest tree trunk. Bears and most other wildlife are active 24 hours a day; have all food and scented items secured 24 hours a day.

Report Concerning Wildlife Encounters

If you experience an attack or near-attack, please call 911. For all other encounters, please use the forms below.

Bears:  if you experience an encounter with a bear, such as a bear approaching you at a distance of less than 50 yards, a bear entering your campsite, or a bear that attempts to take your food submit a Black Bear Incident Form .

Cougars/ Mountain Lions:  If you observe or encounter a cougar/ mountain lion in the park submit a Cougar Report Form.

Elk: If you experience an aggressive encounter with an elk submit an Elk Incident Form.

Other Species: If you experience an agressive or concerning encounter with another wildlife species not listed above, please contact a park ranger or email us at e-mail us. Remember to provide us with your contact information, the date of the incident, location (GPS is best), and species.


Wildlife Viewing Regulations

  • All wildlife in national parks are protected by federal law. According to the Code of Federal Regulations, 36 CFR § 2.2, the feeding, touching, teasing, frightening or intentional disturbing of wildlife nesting, breeding or other activities is prohibited.   

  • Keep 100 feet (30 meters or about two bus lengths) between you and medium to large sized animals.  Anything closer is considered wildlife harassment. 

  • Use binoculars or telephoto lenses for safe viewing. 

  • If an animal sees you and responds, you are too close. You must remain mobile. It is your responsibility to move away, maintain the appropriate distance, and discourage interactions. 

  • Groups of people shall not create barriers that constrain animal movement. 

  • All groups must stay on park designated trails, park in designated parking areas, and avoid creating new social trails or walking in open areas off designated trails.   

  • Do not feed, bait, or use devices (including apps) to call wildlife. Olympic National Park mandates secure food storage at all times.

  • Do not stand near or on top of animal dens or nests.


Last updated: June 21, 2024

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

600 E. Park Avenue
Port Angeles, WA 98362


360 565-3130

Contact Us