Getting too close to wildlife can cause the animal anxiety and potentially aggressive behavior. They might even abandon their young. Use this Rule of Thumb to keep everyone calm.
John Haas is the author of A Birding Guide to Sullivan County New York
We are fortunate to have an abundance of wildlife in the area around Yankee Lake. Deer, Bear, Turkey, Geese, Bald Eagles, Raccoons, Porcupines, Opossum, Foxes, Otters, and even an occasional Coyote may all be seen.
While we all enjoy seeing these animals, it is important to view them responsibly. An easy method of assessing whether or not you are doing so is called the “Rule of Thumb.” Hold your arm out in front of you as far as you can. Do a “thumbs up.” In your field of view, hold your thumb next to whatever animal you are viewing. If the animal appears larger than your thumb, you are too close. If your thumb is larger than the animal, you are viewing it from an acceptable distance.
In the case of some of our more sensitive species, like our resident Bald Eagles, I suggest doubling the distance (your thumb is twice as large as the animal) to ensure as little stress as possible on these magnificent creatures. Viewing animals from too close a distance can be very stressful on the animal. It can cause fear, separation from young, aggression, and in rare cases an attack. Above is an example of acceptable viewing distance.
By all means, go out and enjoy the lake and the environment. While you are out there, hopefully you will get to see some wildlife. As you view them, give ‘em a “Thumbs Up!” and maintain a proper distance between you and the animal.
Remember, viewing wildlife responsibly ensures your safety, and the welfare of the animal you are watching!