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Be BEAR Aware! Wildlife Photography Safety

Updated: Jan 23, 2021

Photography expeditions in the wilderness, particularly in bear territory, don't have to be a scary thing. By no means should you be completely fearless either. You should carry a healthy respect for the wildlife, especially bears, when you are in their "home turf". What can you do to protect yourself and others while capturing the most remarkable photos? Follow these guidelines, established by the Be Bear Aware Campaign, and be ready for the time of your life!

The "DO IT" List

  • Use binoculars, spotting scopes and telephoto lenses to view and photograph wildlife. This reduces stress on the animals.

  • View and photograph from established observation areas or the trail when hiking.

  • Remain alert to potential danger while viewing or taking pictures.

  • Avoid direct eye contact with bears, even through a lens, because it may be interpreted as a challenge or threat.

  • Stay away from newborn or young animals, nests, and dens.

  • Watch other people in the area. Are they putting you in danger?

  • Allow other visitors to enjoy wildlife - avoid blocking others' views.

  • Stay at least 100 yards away from bears and 30 yards away from large wildlife such as bison, moose, elk, and deer.

  • If an animal approaches, back away in order to maintain a safe distance.

The "DON'T DO IT" List

  • Don't sneak up on or surprise an animal, especially a bear.

  • Don't surround, crowd, chase, or follow an animal. It may respond by charging.

  • Don't try to get an animal to move to a different location.

  • Don't make sudden movements or loud noises around wild animals.


  • Make your close-up by using appropriate telephoto lenses and by cropping your photographs.

  • Capture the best images by photographing in controlled wildlife management areas with special access permits.

  • Grow as a photographer by being patient, practicing low-impact photography and devoting many years to getting desired photos.

  • Consider starting by using captive and conditioned animals at zoos and game farms.

Happy Trails!

These helpful tips were created by the Be Bear Aware Campaign -
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