As many of you are aware, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has blocked the extension of Gov. Evers' "Safer at Home" order with immediate effect as of May 13. Following this, several local county and city officials began implementing a patchwork of restrictions of their own. It is not the WSO's intention to attempt to interpret the various orders in effect across the state but rather to provide guidance to our members and bird lovers at large regarding enjoying our birdlife while keeping our own and other’s safety at the top of our minds. As always, we continue to encourage you to remain alert for and compliant with any further state and local restrictions as they may arise.
Birders are well aware of the therapeutic effect of being outdoors and many of us have been fortunate enough to be able to enjoy the birds as almost all avenues of social interaction disappeared. Even as those avenues now become more available, we encourage you to continue to use the outdoors with the same sense of responsibility as before. Many of our outdoor spaces lend themselves to social distancing, and we urge you to choose these spaces over more crowded ones where distancing might be difficult. Not everyone has the option of being within walking distance of these less crowded outdoor spaces, but as before, if at all possible we recommend staying close to home to avoid having to stop for gas, restroom breaks, etc. in order to limit chances of unnecessary physical contact.
Here are some guidelines from the #RecreateResponsibly Coalition, which reinforce these ideas:
Know Before You Go: Check the status of the place you want to visit. If it is closed, don’t go. If it’s crowded, have a plan B.
Plan Ahead: Prepare for facilities to be closed, pack lunch and bring essentials like hand sanitizer and a mask.
Stay Close to Home: This is not the time to travel long distances to recreate. Some places might only open for day use.
Practice Physical Distancing: Go only with your immediate household. Be prepared to cover your nose and mouth and give others space. If you are sick, stay home.
Play It Safe: Slow down and choose lower-risk locations to reduce your risk of injury. Search and rescue operations and health care resources are both strained.
Leave No Trace: Respect public lands and communities and take your garbage with you, including disposable gloves, masks, and toilet paper.
Some additional suggestions specific to birding from eBird central were published in the May 2020 Badger Birder and are reproduced below:
Keep your optics to yourself: Do not share binoculars or spotting scopes with others and do not use other’s.
Share checklists, not phones: Do not pass around those photos on your phones or cameras for ID verification or other reasons.
Maintain distance: Be mindful of others - birders or otherwise - while viewing birds from a narrow trail.
Some options for local birding we have detailed in prior guidance documents remain excellent choices. This includes BIGBY birding using human-powered transportation and working on your eBird patch list.