Camping and Wildlife

Whether you’re camping in a tent, cabin, or a cottage at a campground, or even in your own backyard, there is always a chance you may run into a wild animal. And by wild animal, I don’t necessarily mean you’re going to run into a lion or tiger, but any animal that lives outdoors in the New York State area from squirrels, to foxes, to deer.

Nothing to Fear

Most animals are more afraid of you than you are of them. Aside from a squirrel, chipmunk, deer or other common wildlife, you most likely won’t even encounter any wild animals while camping. Most wild animals keep to themselves and if you do happen upon one, or they happen upon you, they will run off once they see you.

But, Use Caution

While there is nothing to fear, it’s important to use caution around wild animals. If there is a wild animal nearby, be sure to keep your distance and definitely don’t try to feed the animal. This is especially true if you encounter an animal that is exhibiting odd behavior. For example, if a squirrel comes a little too close for comfort or if you see a raccoon, bat, or other nocturnal animal during the day when it is not usual for them to be seen. Though uncommon to run into, there are also larger wildlife such as black bear, coyotes, and wolves in New York State. If you see a wounded animal, don't try to help, but instead, contact the campground manager who can assist you in contacting the local DEC Regional Wildlife Office.

And, though they may look very cute and cuddly, it's especially advised to stay away from baby or juvenile animals for both your safety and the safety of the animal. Often where there is a baby animal, there is a parent nearby and they are very protective of their young.

Animal-Proof Your Campsite

To avoid attracting wild animals to your campsite,

  • Be sure to tightly store any food you have when it’s not being used.
  • Avoid scented soaps, deodorants or lotions as wild animals are attracted to any smells – not just food smells.
  • If camping in a tent, try to keep any food away from the tent where you are sleeping in case a wild animal does happen by and smell your food.
  • Keep your campsite clean and make sure garbage is placed in a sealed, odor-proof bag. Many campgrounds also offer garbage receptacles for safe storage.

Commonly Found Wild Animals in New York State

For the most part, New York is home to fairly typical wildlife. Smaller animals include squirrels, raccoons, skunks, beavers, and otters. Larger animals include deer, foxes, coyotes, cougars, bobcats and black bear. But, as mentioned before, you’re most likely to only run into the more common wildlife while camping.

View a comprehensive list of the wildlife that are common in New York State.

When camping, there is no need to be afraid of wild animals. It's just important to be aware and take some simple precautions to avoid having them for a visit. If hiking or off the beaten path, let someone know where you're going and keep your eyes and ears open for anything unusual. And, while at your campsite, be sure to follow the tips above.

What about you, have you had an encounters with wild animals while camping?

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"Camping with Nature’s Furry Friends"

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