DEC offers tips on viewing wildlife without disturbing them

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is asking the public to avoid disturbing animals while viewing or photographing them.

The DEC said in a press release that photographers have been intentionally disturbing ground-dwelling owls in Washington County in order to observe and photograph them.

“While DEC encourages people to enjoy watching wildlife in the Washington County Grasslands WMA and other public lands, we ask that you do so in a way that protects wildlife, especially endangered and threatened species,” the DEC said in the release.

The DEC recommends that people avoid flushing or disturbing wildlife, and warns them never to chase animals. The department asks people to keep a respectful distance and stay in their vehicles, as that often allows longer and closer observations.

The DEC says wildlife viewers should stay on existing roads, trails and paths, leave the area as it is found, respect the rights of others and ensure that they have proper permission before entering private or posted lands.

The DEC also asks the public to report violations.

“Purposely disturbing, flushing, or chasing an endangered or threatened species is harassment and is illegal,” the press release says. “If you witness such activity, please document it and report it to the DEC Dispatch, 1-877-457-5680.”

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