Wildlife in the Parks

Chesapeake has an abundance of wildlife and natural resources for its citizens to observe and enjoy. As our city grows and at times expands into their habitats, wildlife may be forced into smaller areas. Human contact and sightings are becoming more prevalent - even during daylight hours when some animals are not normally seen.

Parks are part of natural wildlife habitats, and peacefully coexisting while sharing spaces with the animals that call our parks "home" is a constant learning experience. Their presence in our parks should be seen as a gift, not a nuisance. They are an essential part of our environment and a sign of healthy ecosystems.

Keep reading for more information on what kind of wildlife you might see in the parks as well as Fact vs. Fiction, photos, and some Fun Facts.

Learning Opportunities

Chesapeake Parks, Recreation and Tourism offers many opportunities to learn more about nature and wildlife. Sign up to receive the Chesapeake Outdoors newsletter (PDF) for outdoor recreational opportunities each month for you and your family to enjoy. Some of our programs include:

  • Bird and Nature Walks which provide a firsthand opportunity to experience wildlife, flora and fauna in parks and on trails. Some of the walks are specific to a particular animal, for instance, the Owl Prowls. Tree Tours also provide an opportunity to connect with nature noting wildlife along the way.
  • Nature Academy in Nature's Classroom at the Chesapeake Arboretum is held every fourth Thursday during the spring, summer and fall. Geared towards children ages 5-12, this hands-on exploratory educational opportunity offers a variety of topics focused on flora and fauna found at the Arboretum. Children explore the forest, play games and create a craft. Some programs offered include: Planet Insects, Family Explorers, Beneath the Surface and Wildlife Habitats.

General Guidelines

  • Educate yourself and your children to foster an appreciation and respect for wildlife and nature. Appreciate the beauty and diversity that nature has to offer. Encourage passive observation whenever possible, and learn about the wildlife that you see and their habitats. Visit the links below for more information.
  • Please do not feed wildlife and don't litter. It isn't healthy for them and will cause them to lose their natural fear of humans posing a danger. Make sure food and trash are disposed of properly in nearby trash cans or, better yet, take it with you.
  • Keep your distance. Yes, it might be an amazing photo opportunity, but getting too close might trigger a reaction from the animal and they could become aggressive out of fear for themselves or their young ones who might be nearby. Animals spend a majority of their time just looking for food and aren't interested in socializing with humans. Stay calm and leave the area. Don't try to scare them away by approaching them, yelling, throwing something, or waving your hands, a stick, a branch, or another item. Most animals will run or hide when they see humans but they might have a nest or den nearby and want to stay near to protect it.
  • Keep your dog on a leash. Dogs are more likely to attack wildlife than the other way around but if startled or frightened, wild animals will go into protection mode. Make sure your dog is on a short leash (no more than 5 feet in length), under your control at all times, and has up-to-date rabies vaccinations. For their own protection, dogs should not be permitted to roam in the woods or off the trails. Per City Code 50-22(a), dogs must be on a leash when on park property with the exception of dog parks.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and teach children how to do the same. Don't step, sit, or put your hands in an area that you can't see or haven't looked at carefully. Try to stay on the trail system provided for you to help protect the natural habitat.
  • Do not capture wildlife to take home as a pet or for any other reason. This is not permitted per City Code 50-5(a) and includes animals, reptiles and birds and their nests, eggs or young.
  • Please do not ask us to capture or remove animals just because they are present. It is their home too and they are just trying to survive. It is illegal in the State of Virginia to trap and relocate an animal to another area. Chesapeake Animal Services Unit may be called at 757-382-6161 if:
    • A wild animal is sick or injured
    • A wild animal is an orphaned baby
    • A wild animal that is a mammal has caused a bite or scratch that breaks the skin to a pet or human
    • A wild animal is in the act of menacing or attacking a person or pet so as to pose a direct and immediate threat to public safety

For more information on local wildlife that might be seen in Chesapeake parks, please visit the following webpages: