Respect Alaska’s Wildlife

BARROW, Alaska - Coast Guard Lt. Barry Miles, an HH-65 pilot stationed aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton, lays his hand on top of a polar bear track on the sandy beaches of the northern most point in the United States. The Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton is the first high endurance cutter to be in Arctic waters with the specific purpose of performing Homeland Security missions for the Coast Guard. U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer Richard Brahm.

BARROW, Alaska – Coast Guard Lt. Barry Miles, an HH-65 pilot stationed aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton, lays his hand on top of a polar bear track on the sandy beaches of the northern most point in the United States. The Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton is the first high endurance cutter to be in Arctic waters with the specific purpose of performing Homeland Security missions for the Coast Guard. U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer Richard Brahm.

Alaska is an amazing place, surrounded by beautiful scenery and the animals that inhabit it. It’s not uncommon to see rabbits, deer, bears and foxes running around our homes. While enjoying the scenery is an important part of the Alaska experience, there are a few things newcomers to the state need to keep in mind when enjoying the outdoors.

Do not feed the wildlife. Feeding leads to learning bad habits and losing their fear of humans which can eventually lead to personal injury and their deaths. Additionally it’s illegal to feed wild animals.

The Coast Guard police department will issue citations for incidents on Coast Guard property for illegal feeding or harassment of the wildlife.

Here are a  few tips on wildlife viewing from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:

Respectful Wildlife Viewing Practices

Give wildlife plenty of space. Binoculars and spotting scopes allow you to view wildlife without getting too close. Approach wildlife slowly, quietly, and indirectly. Always give animals an avenue for retreat.

Try to view animals without changing their behavior. Avoid using calls or devices that attract wildlife. Resist the temptation to throw rocks to see a flock fly. Remember – harassing wildlife is illegal.

Be respectful of nesting and denning areas, rookeries, and calving grounds.

Well-meaning but intrusive visitors may cause parents to flee, leaving young vulnerable to the elements or predators. Stay on designated trails whenever possible.

Leave “orphaned” or sick animals alone. Young animals that appear alone usually have parents waiting nearby.

Restrain pets or leave them at home. They may startle, chase, or even kill wildlife.

Let animals eat their natural foods. Sharing your sandwich may get animals hooked on handouts; it may even harm their digestive systems. These animals may eventually lose their fear of cars, campers, or even poachers.

Learn to recognize signs of alarm. These are sometimes subtle. Leave if an animal shows them.

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