The WSO provides the following guidance for those who are wondering whether they are still able to get out and bird-watch in light of Governor Evers’ recent “Safer at Home Order”:
Although Governor Evers’ Order (issued on March 24, 2020) generally orders Wisconsinites to stay at home, the order provides an exception for Essential Activities, which include “outdoor activity.” As long as social distancing requirements are met, the Order permits outdoor activities. The Order provides the examples of walking, biking, hiking, or running "by way of example and without limitation." Bird watching would qualify as such an outdoor activity.
In addition, although travel is discouraged and, in some cases, prohibited, travel for the purpose of engaging in an outdoor activity is also permitted. Therefore, driving or biking to go bird watching is allowed, and visiting public and state parks is specifically permitted (but team or contact sports are specifically prohibited).
Travel, however, should remain minimal. The Order states at the outset that: “This is a critical moment in Wisconsin. We must all do our part to cease non-essential travel, business, and social interactions.”
In short, Governor Evers’ order recognizes the value of outdoor recreation and bird watching as long as it can be done responsibly. That includes the now-familiar social distancing requirements of six feet of separation between individuals, frequent hand washing, and not shaking hands.
So, by all means, get out and enjoy the birds, but keep your distance from others, don’t travel too far, minimize contact, and keep in mind the severity of our circumstances.
If the Governor takes further action, the WSO will revisit this guidance.