What Parks Can Do

Implementing the Safe Wildlife Distance campaign

The first step to take when implementing the Safe Wildlife Distance campaign is to define the where and when is the issue occurring. Place a volunteer or staff member (not in uniform) in an unobtrusive location to observe how close people are getting and what they are doing when approaching wildlife.

  • Are they going in groups?
  • Are they using their cell phones or cameras to take pictures?
  • How close are they getting?

Assess the location and available information:

  • Where are people encountering information about appropriate behaviors?
  • Do you have reminders/prompts where the interactions occur?

Identify locations for delivering information. Examples:

  • Pre-visit trip planning
  • In Park areas where visitors may encounter wildlife
    • Signage in locations where visitors would encounter wildlife
    • Rack cards at main visitor center(s) to people who approached desk for information
    • Use the campaign’s key messages in brief conversations with visitors
    • Stickers for use as prompts that remind people about safe viewing distances. These serve as reminders and as cues to others about safe viewing distances.
  • Post-visit reinforce and disseminate appropriate behaviors via social media

Key Messages for Staff

Research shows behavior change or compliance with park rules is more likely when mediated communication aligns with interpersonal communication. The key messages are supported by the campaign materials and most effective when paired with consistent interpersonal communication.

  1. Remind visitors that when they see wildlife, to keep THE safe distance (rather than “a” safe distance –implies there’s a rule)
  2. “Give them room, use your zoom.” (many people are often taking photos)
  3. Telling people about the risks is useful, but be sure to also convey the ways they can benefit from doing the right thing:
    • animals may stay longer allowing for more photos
    • you'll see the animal doing what it naturally does
    • you'll be a part of the park's mission, and/or
    • help keep national park's animals unique


Place a volunteer or staff member (not in uniform) in an unobtrusive location to observe the influence of the campaign. Do people maintain a further distance after the campaign is in place compared to before? What can be adjusted to achieve better results?

Bighorn sheep
Digital Media

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Print Media

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Last updated: February 28, 2019


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