Staying Safe And Protecting Wildlife While Visiting Indiana’s Parklands

Staying Safe And Protecting Wildlife While Visiting Indiana’s Parklands

Last year, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore became Indiana’s first National Park. The Dunes, along with three other major parks, a national forest and wilderness area, provide plenty of opportunities in Indiana for visitors of all ages to enjoy outdoor activities, or simply appreciate beautiful scenery and the abundance of plant and animal species in the State. Protecting wildlife is a priority in these areas, but by encouraging the use of designated nature trails, visitors can safely view wildlife and interact with the environment without disrupting ecosystems. By becoming more aware of the natural environment, the public can avoid putting themselves in danger and help to conserve wildlife habitats for the benefit of all.

Ensuring Health And Safety On Nature Preserves

Following a hiking or cycling trail makes a great family day out, and Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) also organizes guided hikes through nature reserves. Tourists from out of state will want to stay healthy in order to fully appreciate their time exploring Indiana. Practicing good hygiene habits such as hand washing is an effective way to avoid falling ill on holiday, and, on a long hike, walkers should ensure that they are well rested and hydrated throughout the day. For higher risk activities such as climbing and canoeing, adequate insurance will also give travelers greater peace of mind. To further protect the well-being of visitors, Conservation Officers are on patrol in national wildlife refuges and other federal lands. The officers are looking out for infractions such as littering and out of season hunting, but they are also available to guide visitors and ensure their safety while on public land.

Staying Watchful On Waterways

With 19 large natural lakes and numerous other waterways, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy Indiana’s natural beauty from the water. Of course, great care must be taken around water, and wearing a life jacket is recommended. Throughout the summer, visitors should avoid contact with water containing abundant blue-green algae blooms, as they can contain toxins that are dangerous to people and animals. However, in clearer water, paddling is a great way to safely observe aquatic wildlife and connect with nature. After an extensive reintroduction program, there are much larger numbers of river otters, and impressive aquatic birds like the great egret are a more common sight.

Keeping Vigilant In Wooded Areas

Spotting different types of wildlife can be thrilling, but all animals should be viewed from a distance. Picking up a young squirrel or cottontail rabbit will leave a human scent on their fur that could make them more vulnerable to predators. Even if they appear tame, wild animals will bite and scratch if they are handled, and they could also be carrying insects such as fleas. In grasslands and woodlands, walkers should also be aware of another parasitic insect, the deer tick, that can live on grass blades waiting to attach itself to a passing host. Ticks can cause Lyme disease in humans, but covering up and wearing insect spray that contains DEET will deter them, as well as other pests such as mosquitoes. Through safely interacting with the environment and observing wildlife from a distance, visitors can appreciate all that Indiana’s nature preserves and parklands have to offer without endangering themselves or the natural habitats that they have come to enjoy.

Lucy Wyndham, Guest Contributor