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Planning on hitting the trails this summer? Here's how to safely share the space with wildlife

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Posted at 2:52 PM, May 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-27 09:28:12-04

IDAHO — Spring and summer are prime times to get outside and enjoy Idaho's great outdoors, but it's also a common time to run into wildlife on the trails.

"Everybody in Southwest Idaho lives in wildlife habitat, whether you are in the city of Boise or the foothills, so it is certainly something to take into consideration,” said Roger Phillips, Idaho Fish and Game's public information supervisor.

Idaho Fish and Game say negative interactions with wildlife are rare, but it's important to know what to do to keep you and your pets safe in case it does happen.

"These aren't birds in your backyard, and we are in their environment for the most part, but they are going to try and avoid us," Phillips said. "Anytime we are trying to get too close to them, they are usually going to flee so just let them have that opportunity to be wild animals, and stay your distance."

Bears and mountain lions are the biggest concern so if you do encounter them, remain calm.

  • Don't run
  • Don't turn your back to the animal
  • Make yourself look as big as possible
  • Make loud noises
  • If you can pick up rocks or sticks to throw at the animal
  • If they attack, fight back

"It is just something to keep in the back of your minds," Phillips said. "We have thousands and thousands of people in the foothills it is a wildlife habitat but we very rarely hear of anybody reporting any sort of negative reaction to a hostile or threatening animal."

It's also important to make sure the animal knows you're there, a simple shout of "Hey moose" or "Hey bear" will prevent unexpected surprises.

Other steps you can take to minimize risk are:

  • Keep pets on a leash
  • keep children close to you
  • Always be aware of your surroundings
  • Carry bear spray, and know how to use it
  • Travel in groups or pairs

"These things tend to be wild animals, and they like to remain wild animals and that means leaving people alone and avoiding us," Phillips said.

It's especially important this time of year, and IDFG wants to remind trail users that in spring and early summer a lot of wildlife have their young with them, and that's when animals are even more protective.

If they feel a threat to their babies, they are more likely to attack so it's important to have a plan before heading outside.

For more safety tips, click here.