By Terry Thompson, Regional Communications Manager
When hiking trails in Idaho it is not uncommon to come across wildlife. Wildlife, like people, don’t like to be unexpectedly surprised. The key to safely observing and recreating around wildlife is awareness of your surroundings.
Spring and summer bring many opportunities for Idahoans and visitors to explore Idaho’s trails which open up access to many backcountry destinations. When trekking up a trail just outside of town or deep into Idaho’s mountains everyone should be aware of their surroundings that they share with many species of wildlife. While most wildlife encounters are welcomed and create lasting memories, inadvertent or surprise encounters can put both people, their pets and wildlife in a potential conflict situation.
Wildlife, such as mountain lions, bears, elk, deer and moose can be found in many location throughout Idaho, sometimes within towns and neighborhoods. Deer and elk have become year-round residents in many Idaho communities, and mountain lions continue to be seen throughout the state on area trails and at times within neighborhoods.
Moose can be found throughout Idaho
The key to safely observing and recreating around wildlife is awareness. Wildlife, like people, don’t like to be unexpectedly surprised, which often leads to a flight or fight response.
Keys to safety when around wildlife
Depending on the situation or wildlife that a recreationist might encounter, making sure that wildlife is aware of your presence is important, especially in spring when many species of wildlife have young. Wildlife are very possessive and protective of their young, much the same as human parents are with their kids. Giving wildlife a wide berth is always a good practice to have when out in Idaho’s great outdoors, regardless of the season or situation.
Another piece of advice is to always make sure that wildlife knows you are in their habitat. While nobody wants to hear loud yelling from someone else on the same trail, simply calling out with “hey bear” or “hey moose” is often enough to give any wildlife in the area a sense that you’re coming down the trail, which might help prevent an unexpected encounter.