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Etiquette & Safety Tips
While seeing wild animals "up close and personal" can be a great thrill, it is vital to remember that wild animals are very different from domesticated livestock and companion animals. Although wildlife may look or act tame, they are wild and may change quickly and unpredictably from passive or "friendly" to aggressive behavior. The consequences of approaching wildlife can be serious. Approaching or feeding wild animals is never appropriate, as it is the leading cause serious injury or death to both people and wildlife. In addition, some wild animals carry diseases that affect humans and/or domesticated animals.
DO NOT APPROACH WILDLIFE TO FEED, TOUCH, OR PHOTOGRAPH. This applies
even to small, "cute" animals. If an animal approaches
you, it is your responsibility to move away to maintain a safe distance.
Yours, your children's, and the animal's safety are your responsibility!
Animals that are approached may:
- Perceive a threat and respond with instinctive "fight or flight" behavior.
People get injured simply because they are in the animal's way. A car horn,
barking dog, or excited children can trigger an animal into fight
or flight behavior.
- Run into traffic and get hit by vehicles.
- Lose footing and fall.
- Be separated from their young or be forced to abandon their nests or
- Become more vulnerable to predators because they are distracted by people
or begin to smell like humans.
Feeding wildlife is dangerous to the animals because:
- Animals fed along roads tend to stay near the road, increasing the chances
of vehicle-animal crashes.
- They may abandon a natural food source, reducing their chances for survival.
- Animals used to human food may eat aluminum foil, plastic, or other
wrappings. These can severely damage animals' digestive systems and may
even cause death.
- Human food may cause tooth decay, ulcers, or other diseases.
- Animals may try to eat any item with an odor. Do not leave boxes,
wrappers, plastics, or cans of any type where animals can get them.
Litter can kill
Minimizing bear & human conflicts:
- Stay aware of bear activity
- Bears commonly use frontcountry areas - roads & campgrounds.
- Watch for bear sign: tracks, scat, kills.
- Respect posted warnings. Removing signs endangers people and bears.
- Prevent food and garbage problems
- Keep housing and camping areas clean.
- No food, beverages, coolers, or dirty grills left outside; not even empty cans or coolers.
- Always use bear-proof trash cans and dumpsters.
- Never leave trash beside a full can.
- Never cook or eat in or at your tent.
- Keep your sleeping area, tent, and sleeping bag free of food and odors. Bears are attracted to odors, even odors you wouldn't think of such as pet food,
hummingbird feeders, toothpaste, deodorant, suntan lotion, cosmetics, and insect repellent.
- Don't sleep in or store in your tent the clothes you wore while cooking food.
- Avoid eating or storing food where visibility is limited.
- Be prepared to re-pack all food, even cooked food, in your car or bear resistant food container at a moment's notice.
- When on roads and trails
- Stay alert and make noise while hiking or biking.
- Watch for bear sign. Recognize prime feeding areas and avoid them if possible, i.e., berry patches.
- Bears travel along trails and rivers. Watch for natural bottlenecks that could funnel bears into your camp.
- Avoid surprising bears. Travel in the open when possible. Make noise when visibility is limited. Avoid taking pets with you.
- Travel/camp with one or more companions. More eyes can watch for bears. Conversation is a good way to alert bears to your presence. Bears are less likely to approach groups.
- Never approach a bear. Get out of the way or detour widely if you have that option, especially if a bear is not aware of you.
- Do not make direct eye contact. Bears perceive eye contact as aggressive behavior.
- Stay Calm. Immediately pick up small children.
- When a bear sees you, let the bear know that you are human. Wave your arms over your head and speak in a firm, even tone. Back away slowly.
- If a bear approaches, HOLD YOUR GROUND, DON'T RUN, AND DON'T DROP YOUR PACK. Retreat slowly - do not turn and run, as this may trigger an attack. Instead, slowly back away.
- If you are attacked and cannot get away, fight back, kick, scream and yell! Be aggressive!
the links below to become a more informed wildlife enthusiast.
How close is too close?
Bear and mountain lion safety tips
to do about aggressive moose
Moose safety tips
Bison Safety Tips
Safely photographing wildlife
Driving with wildlife in mind
National Library of Medicine snake bite site with links
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