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Park goers urged to keep their distance with new wildlife in West Michigan

Grand Rapids park expert says not following safe practices can negatively impact animals for the rest of their lives.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — It's that time of year, newborn wildlife is appearing at many West Michigan parks. 

While the baby animals may be cute, it's important to remember some key "do's and don'ts" when interacting with wildlife.

13 ON YOUR SIDE spoke to Grand Rapids Park and Recreation Superintendent, Joe Sulak about important tips to keep in mind. 

First, stay quiet as young animals get frightened easily. If you want to take a photo use a zoom up lenses and keep your distance. Some animals may carry rabies, so you don't want to get too close.  

"Anytime you see wildlife, one thing you want to do is try and stay quiet, because then you're gonna see them longer, especially young, they're going to be a little bit more skittish... the louder you are, the less you're going to see," said Sulak. 

And, don't feed the animals, this trains them to rely on people to get food rather than finding it themselves.  

Sulak says, "I do not recommend feeding any animals at all, especially cereal, or bread or high carbohydrate, things that you think, 'Oh, they're gonna love it'. They will love it, but it's not giving them the nutrients that they need. It's training them to rely on food from people, and it makes them a lot more tame."

Sulak adds that not following these practices can negatively impact the animals for the rest of their lives. 

"They lose their advantage in the woods, from, you know, finding food and those natural type of qualities that, that they need to survive," said Sulak. 

While there are rules to follow, Sulak encourages people to continue hitting the trails and creating memories in the community. 

"It's always good to watch from afar, take pictures. You know, that way you can take memories with you. It makes it a better experience," Sulak says. 

Sulak also says park goers can share their photos on their Facebook page here


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