Walking with wildlife: a couple of things to know before hitting the trails

As the weather gets nicer and nicer and the warm weather sets in, the urge to hit the trails will likely follow suit.

With recent bear sightings, we reached out to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for their recommendations as you head outdoors.

“With a bear or cougar, you should stay calm, look at them and react to their behaviour,” said WDFW Officer Jason Langbehn, “if the animal isn’t getting aggressive, just give it a wide berth and make sure they have an escape route, don’t run, as both cougars and bears have a chase reflex.”

He notes that running into either on a trail is unlikely, but in the case they get aggressive, here are the tips.

“Make yourself big, if you are with someone, go stand next to them, be assertive and make a lot of noise to scare them away,” he said.

He also says you may see snakes out and about now sunning themselves. Most in our area are not harmful.

“Primarily you will see garter snakes, maybe bull snakes,” he said, “every once in a while there will be a rattlesnake.”

He says same thing, avoid them, don’t touch them, especially if you aren’t sure of the species. Keeping your dog on a leash will also keep their noses out of places they don’t belong, and keep them from potentially getting bitten.

“It is really tempting to let them off the leash and let them do their own thing,” he said, “but it can cause problems for other dog owners and be dangerous for wildlife.”

As temperatures rise, there is also the possibility of seeing moose around looking for water and even a snack on your green lush gardens.

“Never try and feed a moose, don’t get close to them to take a photo, that can be tempting, but a moose can be dangerous,” Langbehn said.

And of course, there’s the age old reminder.

“Always be on the lookout for ticks,” he said, “check yourself after being outside, get them removed right away and of course check your animals too.”

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