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Animal Encounters – How to Stay Safe

Animal Encounters - How to stay safe

Know before you go

Whether you’re a winter explorer, or you’re planning your spring and summer excursions, it’s important to have well-rounded preparation. Most of us remember to pack snacks, water, and necessary clothing. However, do you know what to do when you encounter wildlife in the midst of your outdoor exploration? Read on to learn how to stay safe during various animal encounters.

We’re going on a bear hunt

Actually, we hope you’re not. Bears are not to be messed with, and should not be hunted down. However, there is a chance you could encounter a bear unintentionally out on the trail. Bears are found on a vast part of the Northwest, and our trails just so happen to encroach on their land. So what should you do if you encounter a bear?

First of all, know that encounters are rare. Most bears are not comfortable around humans and will try to keep their distance. However, if a bear is within sight, you want to make yourself as “big” as possible. Stand up to your full height and make lots of noise. Yell and clack those hiking poles together. If the bear starts to move towards you, throw objects at the bear (but maintain eye contact – don’t bend down to grab rocks).

Hey Deer

It is also not uncommon in Washington state to encounter moose, elk or deer on the trail. Wild elk live in several state parks and moose wander through central and east-side parks (that’s our neck of the woods!). While these massive creatures are impressive to look at, please don’t tiptoe closer for a better shot. Moose and elk can become aggressive, especially in mating or calving season. You’re not going to win that fight. Dog barking can also instigate a moose, so if you’ve got your four-legged friend try to keep it quiet, and turn to go another direction.

Deer are very common to find around these parts, and may seem like a good friend to make. However, this is not Bambi and human food will make the deer sick. Keep your distance here as well.

Rattle, rattle

Central and Eastern Washington has many great features – rattlesnake country might not be our favorite. It is not uncommon to encounter rattlesnakes on the trail during certain seasons. Despite the fear they may immediately initiate, remember that the rattlesnake does not want to bite you. They really just want to be left alone. If you hear their rattle, that’s their warning. Look carefully for where the snake is and quietly and carefully back away. Don’t crowd the snake, and if you have a dog of small enough stature, pick it up.

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