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Jill Sanford | 08.11.2017

With it’s diverse landscape, California is quite possibly one of the best states to see a variety of wildlife. It’s home to elk, bears, coyote, sea lions, marmots, whales, and many more species of mammals, fish, and amphibians galore.

For some people, wildlife viewing is the top motivator to get outdoors and visit wild places. For others, it’s just an added bonus, an afterthought. In either case, it’s a good idea to know what kind of wildlife to expect wherever you are heading, and how to treat them if you are lucky enough to spot an animal. When it comes to dangerous creatures like bears or mountain lions, it doesn’t hurt to call up the local land management agencies before you embark on a hike or outing to ask if there have been recent sightings in the area.

Even with docile creatures, it’s important to treat them with respect. That means not feeding them, at all, ever. Even those ducks and squirrels in your own neighborhood park, too.

If you want a second opinion on that, here are four reasons why feeding wild creatures is bad, courtesy of the Humane Society:

  • People food is bad for them.
  • It causes animals to lose their fear of people.
  • Feeding animals from or near vehicles is dangerous to animals, people, and property.
  • Animals who depend on people for food can cause injuries or spread diseases.

Other do’s and don’ts when it comes to wildlife viewing include these tips:

  • Dawn and dusk are the best time to spot most wild animals.
  • Don’t bring your dog with you if you want to see wild animals.
  • Choose a comfortable perch and sit still.
  • Never approach a wild animal; keep your distance.
  • Preserve a wild animal's habitat by practicing Leave No Trace principles.

There are a ton of people as well as animals who make their homes in California, and that’s why, as outdoor enthusiasts, we should always be respectful of wild creatures and give them the space they deserve.

Here’s a list of diverse adventures where your chances of spotting wildlife are good:

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