Take Only Poke Balls, Leave Only Footprints

It’s safe to say Pokémon Go has made a Gyarados-sized splash for mobile users around the world. The app (which is not yet available in Canada) is turning smart phones into a window to a virtual reality where you can see a Bulbasaur in your office or a Pikachu on the street. While the need to ”Catch ‘em All” has spread faster than Pigdeys in a grassy area, these virtual Pokémon share their surrounding with real-life species. It’s important to keep habitats untouched and clean: throw only virtual Poké Balls, take only Pokémon.

What is Pokémon Go?

I come from a generation where long family car rides to your grandparents most likely involved a trusty Gameboy Advance loaded with the latest Pokémon console. Now you’re telling me I can venture outside to my favorite nature spots on the hunt for virtual Pokémon? The 12-year-old in me is ecstatic.

Technology has impacted the environment significantly since I was a young Pokémon trainer. Pokémon Go blurs the lines between nature vs. machina, forcing players to get outside in order to play the game. Using your phone’s GPS and clock, the apps detects where you are and whether it is night/day to make Pokémon appear around you. This encourages users to visit diverse environments in order to capture different types of Pokémon.

Gaff Point lookout, Nova Scotia (Photo by NCC)

Gaff Point lookout, Nova Scotia (Photo by NCC)

For example, if you want to catch a water type Pokémon, you need to visit an area with water such as Gaff Point in Nova Scotia, or if you’re looking for a grass-type visit a place such as Ontario’s Happy Valley Forest.

Stop to smell the roses

The great thing about Pokémon Go is it encourages users to explore new places. While you’re out capturing Pokémon, take a moment to enjoy your surroundings. Perhaps while on a quest for a rare Mewtwo you may come across your new favorite nature spot!

Being out in nature can improve your mental health and is proven to reduce stress. It is scientifically proven that spending time outside can ease anxiety and depression, improve focus and strengthen immune systems.

A real-life Butterfree? This is a white admiral butterfly spotted at the Happy Valley Forest (Photo by NCC)

A real-life Butterfree? This is a white admiral butterfly spotted at the Happy Valley Forest (Photo by NCC)

Pokémon Go is a great activity for the family too. Not only does it increase creativity, it allows Pokémon trainers of all ages to get outside and work together to search for hidden Pokémon! It is also a great way to exercise, especially for those who dread the treadmill.

Tips and tricks to get up close and personal with nature

While Pokémon Go is a great way to experience nature, there is still a lot of value in screen-free enjoyment.

Here are tips to help you enjoy the very real aspects of nature while out chasing Pokémon:

  1. Add a 30-minute (or longer) screen-free break. Maybe try one of NCC’s nature prescription activities!
  2. In case you come across any unknown real-life species, the hashtag #PokeBlitz has been made to help Pokémon Trainers identify their discoveries.
  3. Keep a journal of the real species you encounter during the hunt for new Pokémon.
  4. Pay attention! Staying alert is not only critical for finding new Pokémon, it is important for your safety! Be mindful of traffic, potential tripping hazards like logs or fallen trees and cliff or steep hills.
  5. It’s also important to be mindful of the critters you encounter and enjoy them from a respectful and non-intrusive distance.
  6. So whether you’re out catching virtual Pokémon or looking to spot a real-life species, remember to enjoy nature safely and responsibly!

This post originally appeared on Land Lines and was written by Raechel Bonomo, communications assistant with the Nature Conservancy of Canada.


John B
John B2 years ago

Interesting. Thanks for sharing.

Elizabeth Brawn
Elizabeth Brawn2 years ago


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

Jessica K.
Jessica K2 years ago

Adding screen-free breaks sounds like a good idea. Thanks.

sandy Gardner
sandy Gardner2 years ago


Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran2 years ago


Teresa Antela
Teresa Antela2 years ago

Just like you, Beryl Ludwig.

Beryl Ludwig
Beryl Ludwig2 years ago

thank you for the article -quite interesting I don't have a smartphone, I have a brain to tell me where to visit. BTW I have no plans on getting a smart phone, I will live like I have learned..

Janis K.
Janis K2 years ago

Thanks for sharing.