We love to watch wildlife. Television networks such as Animal Planet or National Geographic are testimony to the public’s interest in learning about the natural world.
In fact, a nationwide survey conducted by the Outdoor Foundation showed about a third of 32,658 respondents indicated they participated in wildlife viewing in 2015.
Those who do participate in wildlife watching are avid about the pastime—they encourage more to participate in this passive form of recreation, particularly in our commonwealth’s premiere theaters: Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests.
While features change seasonally, August in particular is a great time of year to enjoy nature and view wildlife across the state. Depending on the particular scenic location, one may find bald eagles, osprey, bobcat, or even elk.
Wildlife viewing opportunities are available in the form of organized groups, guided walks, hikes, and water-based excursions—or for the solitary observer, there are still many resources including interpretive signage at prime viewing locations that describe the natural history of the fauna being observed.
State parks and forests are a particularly ideal spot to go wildlife watching: DCNR manages over 2.3 million acres of potential viewing habitat.
As we move into late summer and fall, the Wildlife Center at Sinnemahoning State Park and the Elk County Visitor Center become Pennsylvania’s first-run theaters for Elk and other wildlife viewing—offering ample wildlife “screenings.”
Sinnemahoning State Park’s year-round environmental education and interpretation programs are guaranteed to pique the interest of both novice and expert wildlife seekers. These programs explore the lives of amphibians and reptiles, bruin (bear), and ruminants (deer and elk).
Visitors don’t need to go far to see the residents either; more times than not, deer, elk, or bear are seen in the open fields of the day use area and surrounding the wildlife.
The Elk Country Visitor Center is known as best place to view elk in the northeastern United States. Part of the PA Wilds, the center offers hands-on exhibits for all ages to learn about elk and other wildlife in the area.
The center boasts a 4-D immersive theater that allows visitors to get a feel for elk country in all seasons. The center’s indoor viewing scopes allow for observation no matter the weather.
And the center’s trails and viewing areas let visitors experience the natural habitats of the magnificent creatures!
State forests similarly offer plenty of opportunities to wildlife watchers. Birding is a popular activity in state forests, as birders catalog and study the wide variety of bird species that either call Pennsylvania their home or are just passing through.
With its roads and quiet, secluded areas, state forests make ideal places to go birding. Enthusiasts are encouraged to check with the state forest district offices before heading out for suggested locations.
No matter where you view wildlife, it’ll be a great experience if you remember some basic tips.
-- Wear dull colors to stay camouflaged
-- Walk softly and stay quiet
-- Leave pets at home; and
-- Never interfere or touch the wildlife.
Following these guidelines can make for an experience you will never forget! Wild watching opportunities and tips in Pennsylvania's state parks are available for those looking to watch for the can't miss blockbuster of the summer.
More wildlife watching ideas are available at the Visit PA Wildlife Watching In Pennsylvania webpage, the Game Commission’s Watchable Wildlife webpage and the Fish & Boat Commission Water Trails webpage.
For more information, visit DCNR’s website, Click Here to sign up for the Resource newsletter, Click Here to be part of DCNR’s Online Community, Click Here to hook up with DCNR on other social media-- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.(Reprinted from the August 3 DCNR Resource newsletter. Click Here to sign up for your own copy (bottom of the page).)