Spend enough time in Colorado and you'll eventually spot some of our spectacular wildlife. Venture into the high country (especially on foot) and your chances of seeing the inhabitants of our forests and mountains increase drastically. Seeing some Rocky Mountain wildlife can be an unforgettable experience, but a few tips can ensure it is a safe one.
If you're lucky enough to see something special, remember - distance. The general rule is that if you're close enough to affect a wild animal's behavior you're too close. A basic pair of binoculars will allow you to learn about our wildlife and their lives up close, without endangering either party.
Never feed a wild animal - to get a photo or for any other reason. Most animals are naturally cautious around humans. When animals learn to associate humans with food they become less fearful, which can lead to an unpleasant encounter. Even deer can become aggressive under certain circumstances.
If an animal injures a person because someone wandered too close or even provided food, that animal could be killed by a wildlife officer under state law. This is a tragedy that we can prevent with a little common sense. Similarly, innocent people could be injured. I know I wouldn't want to have either on my conscience.
Don't forget that wild animals are just that - wild. Moose are actually far more likely to attack a person than a bear or a mountain lion. If you don't invade their comfort zone or try to feed them, it's extremely unlikely that you'll have a problem. Just be quiet, keep your distance and enjoy the moment. Try not to be preoccupied with getting a photo, and never block a potential exit route.
If you find yourself unexpectedly in the company of a large animal, it's important to know what to do. In most cases, the typical advice is to slowly back away. Give them plenty of room. Talk quietly to ensure they are aware of (but not surprised by) your presence.
Patience is your friend when wildlife watching. If you want to see a particular animal, learn a little about their ideal habitat, and then look for them when you're exploring. You might be surprised at what you see just by sitting for a while.