Some of my best moments on the trail have been when I've seen a golden eagle soaring overhead or a Rocky Mountain Goat scrabbling down a cliff or a moose grazing in the willows.
I live for this stuff!
But I also recognize that wildlife = wild creatures.
No matter how much these awe-inspiring creatures seem to tolerate humans: wild is wild.
Be prepared for encounters with wildlife and know what to do the next time you round the bend and find a bull moose grazing on the willows beside the trail or a black bear with her cubs.
This is my first installment in a set of tips on what to do when you get to see wild - up close!
Black and Grizzly Bears:
- Remain calm and avoid sudden movements; back away slowly if you can. If the bear moves towards you, stop.
- Give the bear plenty of room, allowing it to continue its activities undisturbed.
- If you spot a bear and the bear is unaware of you, detour quickly and quietly away.
- If spotted by a bear, try to get its attention while it is a good distance away. Help the bear to recognize that you are human, by talking to it in a normal voice or waving your arms. If a bear cannot tell what you are, it may come closer or stand on its hind legs to get a better look or smell. A standing bear is usually curious, not threatening.
- Bear experts generally recommend standing still if a bear charges - it may be a bluff.
- Never run from a bear. Running may elicit a chase from an otherwise non-aggressive bear, and since they can run faster than 30 mph, you have no chance of outrunning them.
- Never feed or toss food to a bear.
- Bears climb trees, do not use one as a way of escape.
- Throw an object onto the ground (like a camera) if the bear pursues you, and it may be distracted by this and allow you to escape.
- If you carry pepper spray, be sure that you have trained with it before trusting it during an attack.
Give these creatures the respect they deserve, and remember that YOU are in their habitat.