Ethical Wildlife Viewing

Take home great memories of San Juan Island by viewing wildlife ethically – in a way that respects the space wild animals need to live free from harassment.

San Juan Island National Historical Park offers habitat for many species of animals. When you visit the park, you are visiting their home. Practicing ethical wildlife viewing offers current and future visitors the special opportunity to observe animals behaving naturally, instead of seeking food or other human-conditioned behaviors. Thank you for being a steward of these animals and San Juan Island.

The Best Relationship is a Long-Distance Relationship

Silhouettes of people separated from silhouette of fox by two school buses, 75 feet or 23 meters. Fox speech bubble says "Distance gives us new perspective."

Always stay 75 feet (about two bus-lengths) away from wildlife.

Silhouettes of people separated from silhouettes of seals by four school buses, 150 feet or 246 meters. Seal speech bubble says "Distance makes the heart grow fonder."

Stay 150 feet (about four bus-lengths) from seals and sea lions.


Protect San Juan Wildlife

Do not feed wildlife icon.

Do Not Feed Wildlife

It's not just a snack. Animals that get used to eating human food are often attracted to roads, where deadly accidents can happen. Human food can also weaken wild animals’ immune and digestive systems, leading to sickness. Unfortunately, some animals have become conditioned to seek human food—it is your responsibility to move away if an animal approaches you.

Icon of person walking on trail with leashed dog.

Stay on Trails and Leash your Dog

The park is home to the world’s only remaining population of endangered island marbled butterflies. Off-trail boots and paws may accidentally crush fragile butterfly larvae and chrysalises. Help protect these hidden pollinators by keeping yourself and your pets on the path.

Icon of person looking through binoculars

Give them Room – Use Your Zoom!

By using binoculars or a telephoto lens, you’ll see more of an animal’s natural behavior and activity. Foxes and other wildlife, including birds, need space free from harassment to hunt, raise their young, and rest. If an animal responds to your presence, you are too close.


  • 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.   
  • 75 ft is the standard NPS regulation for distances between humans and small to medium sized animals. Anything closer is considered wildlife harassment. 
  • Use binoculars or telephoto lenses for safe viewing. No chairs or tripods are permitted within the prairie (use is limited to roadside areas and established parking areas behind split-rail fencing). 
  • 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 to call wildlife. 
  • Do not stand near or on top of animal dens.

Last updated: June 5, 2023

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 429
Friday Harbor, WA 98250


360 378-2240

Contact Us