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Leave No Trace - OutdoorPlaces.Com

 Leave No Trace Ethics - Summary



  • Observe wildlife at a distance.  Get no closer than 25 yards for non-predatory animals and no closer than 100 yards for predatory animals.  Do not follow or track animals, and do not approach animals in the wind.

  • A fed animal is a dead animal.  Never feed wild animals, never leave food behind at a rest area or campsite that could be found or dug up.  Human food is high in fat and carbohydrates that can cause strange behavior and in more severe cases make animals dependent on human food, or too fat to avoid predators.

  • Protect the wildlife by storing your food properly.  Use bear canisters or sling your food goods at least ten feet in the air on a tree limb.  Although this may seem to be an issue for bears, small animals can get into your food just as easily.

  • Control pets at all times.  Never let them run ahead of you chase or bother the wildlife.  If you cannot manage your pet, or your pet will not obey you, better for your petís protection to leave them at home.

  • Avoid wildlife at sensitive times such as mating, nesting, raising their young, shedding skin (in the case of lizards and snakes), when injured, when hunting and in the winter months.


  • Respect other visitors and donít do anything that would ruin someone elseís experience.  Donít cut through campsites be belligerent or challenging.

  • Always be courteous to those on the trail.  Yield to other users if you are slower, or if you are using a mountain bike or doing equestrian travel.

  • When you take breaks or camp, do it away from trails or other visitors.  A general rule of thumb for setting up dispersed camping is you should not be able to see your neighbors.

  • Keep respectfully quiet.  Loud noise, music playing, yelling or screaming should be avoided.  This is especially true in open areas and even more so in riparian habit or along waterways where sound can travel for long distances.  Donít let dogs bark or children run wild either.  When traveling in bear or cougar country, use your discretion on making the proper amount of noise to discourage a surprise bear encounter.

This is only a summary of low impact ethics.  If you want a more detailed overview of low impact ethics, you can take a course through the National Outdoor Leadership School who can direct you to a Leave No Trace course in your area.  If you are interested in becoming a Leave No Trace Master, the National Outdoor Leadership School teaches instructors and provides teaching materials for low impact backcountry camping.  Leave no trace ethics is the responsibility of everyone and by following these guidelines you can help assure that future generations can enjoy the great outdoors.