More than 71 million Americans take time to watch wildlife each year, making it one of the most popular and fastest growing recreational activities in the country. It’s no wonder why—there are few things more exciting than seeing an animal in the wild.
Viewing animals in nature is also one of the best ways to appreciate the importance of your role as a woodland owner. No one owns wild animals, they belong to all. But when you provide a healthy home for wildlife through good stewardship of your woodland, you provide significant value both to the environment and to your fellow earth-dwellers.
Wildlife watching is an activity that has something for everyone. You can observe wildlife on any day of the year, watching as animals live out their lives against the ever-changing backdrop of the seasons. Wildlife viewing can be as strenuous as a hike through rugged terrain, or as relaxing as sitting back in an easy chair with a view of a wildlife hotspot. It can also be a part of other outdoor activities such as walking, hiking, fishing, hunting, snowmobiling, driving, or boating.
Wildlife filmmakers sometimes spend years patiently capturing the moments they compress into one documentary. In reality, you can’t expect
drama on every outing. But by learning about the animals in your region (including when they are active and what they like to eat) and what your woodland has to offer them, you can increase your chances of catching some truly special and splendid moments.
Experienced wildlife observers are also able to see the drama in everyday wildlife routines. Learning to appreciate your woodlands’ smaller and more common residents, such as butterflies and squirrels, will make it more likely that you enjoy wildlife watching every time. Learning to recognize the tracks and signs that animals leave behind lets us observe them even when they’ve moved on. With a little imagination and investigation, you can reconstruct their paths and lives.
These pages will provide much of the information you need to view wildlife, manage your woodland for better wildlife habitat, and introduce the next generation to the joys of watching wildlife.
What you’ll find in this section
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