The Yellowstone Association Institute is committed to demonstrating a high standard of appropriate and ethical behavior in Yellowstone. As a participant in an Institute program, we ask that you adhere to the following Code of Ethics. In addition to the ethics highlighted below, the Institute abides by all National Park Service (NPS) rules and regulations. We also practice Leave No Trace guidelines for traveling responsibly in the wilderness.
Observing Wildlife: We will do our best to have as little impact on wildlife as possible. Animals will be observed from a distance, using high powered spotting scopes to help keep our presence from affecting their behavior. Participants should not expect to get close-up photographs of wildlife. We will adhere to NPS regulations by keeping a minimum distance of 25 yards from bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose, coyotes, nesting birds, and 100 yards from bears and wolves. We will not entice wildlife with food, animal calls, or any actions that change their behavior.
Leave What You Find: It is illegal to remove natural or cultural artifacts (plants, animals, bones, rocks, etc.) from the park. Institute instructors have permission from NPS to manipulate plants, rocks, bones, etc. for educational purposes, and will return them to their natural positions and locations.
General Etiquette: Institute groups will be considerate of other visitors and respect the quality of their experience. Voices and vehicle sounds carry great distances and affect both wildlife and people. Remaining silent or very quiet while watching wildlife lets the sounds of Yellowstone (including wolf howls) prevail.
Roads and Vehicles: Expect wildlife on the road, and drive at or below the posted park speed limits. When stopping to observe wildlife or other park features, the Institute will move vehicles entirely off the road. If there is no safe pullout available, we will drive to the next safe place and walk back to observe the wildlife. We will not stop in the middle of the road, and should a traffic jam develop as a result of our activities, we will cease the activity.
Properly Dispose of Waste: We will pack out all trash, leftover food, and litter. Your instructor will discuss techniques for properly disposing of human waste in the field.
Traveling Lightly: When hiking or walking in Yellowstone, we will use existing trails and boardwalks, and follow appropriate techniques when walking off-trail. Walking around muddy or wet places in the trail increases erosion and negatively affects the resource; proper equipment is essential to hiking ethically. Participants should come adequately prepared with the equipment listed for their program and should expect to walk through mud, snow, or puddles in the trail.
Practice Sustainable Methods: We will reduce waste by minimizing paper and other disposable products used during programs. Recycling will be practiced in vehicles and at YA facilities. Effects of climate change, especially those evident in Yellowstone, will be highlighted by instructors, as well as the efforts of Yellowstone National Park and its partners to mitigate these effects.
Thank you for helping us set a good example in Yellowstone!