cloudhiking - maps and adventure guides

Site Links


Contact Us









Friends' Links

Appalachia & Beyond

Family Wilds


Marking My Territory

Outcast Hikers


370 LNT - Respect Wildlife 2011-03-04

clarks Nutcracker

While descending from a winter climb in Rocky Mountain National Park I stopped to talk to climbers who were headed up to do the same route I had just climbed. Excitedly, I told them about the route and conditions.

As I waved my arm over my head suddenly my gloved hand met resistance. I continued with my tale. One of the group of climbers was standing behind me and I assumed he had grabbed my hand to subdue my wild gesturing. All eyes in the group were looking beyond me to my right hand. I turned and saw a huge bird (Clark's Nutcracker) had landed on my hand. My thickly gloved hand disguised the pressure on my hand.

It was not until later that I realized what the bird was doing. During the summer he had frequented Bear Lake (a very popular trailhead) and had been fed. Now that it was winter, he was looking for some more handouts. He had been tamed by tourists' treats.

The sixth Leave No Trace Principle is to Respect Wildlife. In the wilds the wildlife are wild. It is not a petting zoo. The wild animals need to be treated like wild animals. Trying to pet or feed them can be dangerous to the tamer (the animals are wild and unpredictable, they may carry and spread diseases) and for the wildlife as they become dependent on the easy food source. I heard a Park person (unknown status) explaining to some youngsters: "if you begin feeding the squirrels then you will need to return to continue feeding the animals three times a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, for the rest of their lives!" The children were not deterred and were ready to accept the challenge of feeding the animals; however their parents took notice!

A few Respect Wildlife tips ...

Leave them alone! Do not try to tame wildlife.

Do not feed the wildlife.

Keep food stored properly at all times. Hang the food bag when it is not in use.

There are critters other than bears who like to eat free food. Hang the food bag!

All parks should have animal proof trash cans.

Be conscious of crumbs and left overs from cooking.

Clean the grill grates after cooking on them.

Keep your dog on a leash.

Camp at least 200 feet from water. Do not disturb animals access to the water.

Learn to "dig a hole" so that animals will not uncover the waste.

Keep a distance buffer when observing wildlife. Stay unnoticed.

In bear country, make sure the bear hears you coming. Hopefully, he will respect you.

Happy respected wildlife trails


Leave No Trace


Name (required):

Comment (required):

Please Introduce Secure Code: