Wildlife in North Carolina Photo Competition


Last year, more than 1,800 images were entered. This year, your winning photo could be published on the cover of this magazine.


Entries for this year's competition are now closed. Check back later in 2023 for next year's competition. 


Adult photo competition entrants must be subscribers to Wildlife in North Carolina. Photographers in the two youth categories (13–17 years old and 12 and under) may enter without a subscription.


The Wildlife in North Carolina Photo Competition aims to encourage people to participate in nature photography, thereby fostering greater understanding and appreciation of North Carolina’s wildlife and wild places. Winning photographs will be published in the July/August 2023 issue of Wildlife in North Carolina.


The N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, our founding partner, is a fantastic place to learn about North Carolina’s wildlife and wild places through its exhibits and classes. North Carolina’s outstanding state parks are ideal places to photograph wild animals and wild landscapes. Visit ncwildlife.org for more information about the competition, then get outside and show us your best nature photography.


Who May Enter

Amateur and professional photographers, except for employees of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Com­­mis­sion, and their immediate families (children, siblings and spouses). Adult photo competition entrants must be subscribers to Wildlife in North Carolina. Photographers in the two youth categories (13–17 years old and 12 and under) may enter without a subscription.

Photo Categories

Photos will be judged in 10 categories:

  • Birds
  • Mammals
  • Reptiles and Amphibians
  • Invertebrates
  • Wild Landscapes: The peaks, valleys, plains and beaches of North Carolina.
  • Wild Plants and Fungi: Wild-growing plants only, including their flowers, leaves, fruits and other parts. Absolutely no cultivated plants will be accepted.
  • Outdoor Recreation: Show how people interact with North Carolina’s natural world through activ­ities that are inextricably linked to nature, such as hunting, fishing, hiking, rock climbing or canoeing.
  • Animal Behavior: Anything animals do, from every­day activities to interactions with other animals to unusual behavior.
  • Youth Photographer, 13–17: Any of the above subjects, shot by photographers ages 13-17.
  • Youth Photographer, 12 and under: Any of the above subjects, shot by children 12 and younger.

Photographs must have been taken in North Carolina no earlier than Sept. 15, 2018. 

You must declare on your entry form if your photograph is of an animal in captivity, such as at a zoo, nature center or rehabilitation facility. Please do not enter photos of animals that are both captive and non-native to North Carolina (for example, polar bears or lions at the N.C. Zoo).

No pets or domestic animals will be accepted, with the exception of animals participating with people in outdoor recreation (for example, hunting dogs or riders on horseback).

Please do not harass wildlife in an attempt to photograph it.

Manipulation of images, either film or digital, should be limited to conventional darkroom tech­niques or basic sharpening and cropping. Images should contain only the subject matter as originally seen through the viewfinder. Multiple exposures, digitally stitched photos, high dynamic range images and photos containing any manipulated or added content will not be accepted and should not be entered.

Entries may not contain any text aside from that contained in the subject matter. Date stamps, sig­natures and trail camera information are not per­mit­ted, regardless of whether they are added during or after the image is photographed. Ori­ginal images may be cropped to eliminate date stamps or other text.

An entrant must hold all rights to a photograph. Photos previously published or pending publication, or that violate or infringe upon another person’s copyright, are not eligible. Please do not infringe on the rights of property owners in an attempt to photographs.

How to Enter

Visit ncwildlife.org, click on the Photo Competition link, and then click the Enter a Photo link to submit a photograph. 

Only JPG files smaller than 2 MB will be accepted for upload. 

Upload your photo using the online entry form on the website. Repeat this process for each photo entered. 

Entrants may submit a maximum of two (2) photos per category. 

The competition begins at 8 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. Entries must be uploaded by 5 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 31, 2023. 

Entrants may verify receipt of entries by checking ncwildlife.org and clicking the Photo Competition link to view a text list of all entries. 

An image may be entered in only one category. For instance, if a photo of a preening wood duck might fit in Birds or Animal Behavior, you must choose the one category in which you want the image to compete. 

Entrants in the youth categories must be the appropriate age for the category entered on the closing date of the competition. Once a youth photographer has entered two photos in the proper youth category, they may enter other photos in any other categories they wish.


All winners will be published in the July/August issue of Wildlife in North Carolina Magazine and exhibited.

Grand prize: Your photo published on the cover of the July/August issue of Wildlife in North Carolina Magazine, plus $200. 

First place, all categories: $100. 

Second place, all categories: $75. 

Third place, all categories: $50. 


Winners will be selected by a panel comprised of staff of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and professional wildlife photographers.

The Fine Print

By entering the Wildlife in North Carolina Photo Competition, entrants grant all sponsors the right to publish and use submitted photographs in print or electronic form to promote the competition. Reproduction of entries will include the necessary photographer credit.

Entrants agree that if their submission is selected as a winner, they grant all sponsors the right to display their photograph(s) at venues including but not limited to the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences. Exhibition of entries will include photographer credit.

Entrants will be asked on the online entry form if their photo was taken in a North Carolina state park. All such entries will be provided to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation for possible usage in public information/promotional materials, park displays or agency press releases to various media outlets. Any such usage will include the necessary photographer credit.

Winners will be required to provide original source material—slides, high-resolution digital files or negatives—for reproduction in the magazine and for exhibition prints. 

Wildlife in North Carolina staff will determine entry eligibility.


Please do not call about entries. Send questions to competition@ncwildlife.org.

Enter online at ncwildlife.org.

Grab your camera and good luck!