To be safe around the wildlife

GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado (KKCO) – Hiking in Colorado can get you out and about more, but for native wildlife living in Colorado’s deserts, forests, and mountains, humans can sometimes be an unwelcome uninvited guest. Dealing with these unexpected encounters can sometimes be the difference between a pleasant hike with a story to tell and one that takes you to the hospital.

Bureau of Land Management employee Eric Coulter says the best way to avoid negative interactions with wildlife is to be aware of your surroundings. “We want people to understand when they go out there’s that potential. Always avoid encounters with wildlife,” Coulter said.

Staying calm is also key and can sometimes save your life. “If you have the ability to back up and get off track, if the animal comes towards you, it’s also really important to get it the space and the opportunity and the direction it needs to go,” said Colorado Parks and Wildlife Manager Natalie Renneker.

In terms of deterring animals that are already set on approaching you, Renneker says bear spray is the best option for most animals. “It can be used for moose, deer, lions, and pretty much any mammal will respond to it,” Renneker said.

Avoiding dangerous wildlife is always the best first choice, but attacks are still possible. If you encounter an aggressive animal, Renneker says the best option is to go back slowly. Turning and running can trigger predatory hunting instincts in some wildlife. Renneker also said you should fight back if you get attacked. “Kick, kick and do what you have to. Your eyes can be really sensitive.”

However, some animals react differently. The context of the attack can be important, so be sure to research dangerous wildlife in your area before going outside.

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