Seeing animals along the roads in the Gem State is not uncommon and Idaho Fish and Game gives tips for safely enjoying and sharing the roads. While most natural encounters are welcome, surprise encounters can put both humans, their pets, and animals into a potentially conflict-ridden situation.
IDFG says mountain lions, bears, moose, deer and elk are found in many places across Idaho, sometimes in cities and neighborhoods. Deer and elk have become year-round residents and many communities and mountain lions are seen on area trails and occasionally in neighborhoods.
The key to safely looking and having fun around wildlife is to become aware. Depending on the situation or wildlife, it is important to make sure the animal is aware of your presence. This is especially true in the spring, when many species have babies with them. Wildlife is very protective of their young and giving them ample space is always a good practice, regardless of the season or situation, according to IDFG.
IDFG also advises you to make sure wildlife knows you are in their habitat. Calling is often enough to give any wildlife in the area a feeling that you are going down the road, which could help prevent an unexpected encounter.
Fish and Hunting will always prioritize public safety when wildlife is near people. It is recommended to use these safety tips when entertaining or staying close to wildlife:
- Never allow animals, especially bears, access to human food or garbage. A food-conditioned bear is a public safety hazard, and in some cases will be captured and euthanized.
- Always hold your pets by a leash. Even the best trained dog in a tense natural situation may not respond to commands, which puts the dog and its owner, and the wildlife in a dangerous situation.
- Always be aware of your surroundings, and use all your senses to keep yourself safe.
- Wear and know how to use a bear spray. Keep it easily accessible, which means in a chest harness or belt. Bear spray can also be an effective deterrent to other species such as lions.
- If someone encounters a mountain lion or a bear, no matter the location, remember these safety actions:
- NEVER run. Running can easily trigger their natural tendency to chase and catch something that could be considered prey.
- Do not turn your back on the animal.
- Make yourself look as big as possible.
- Make loud noises (i.e. screaming) to make them notice that you are not prey.
- If it can be done safely, pick up stones or sticks to throw at the animal.
- Take small children.
- If attacked, retaliate!
For more information on human-wildlife safety tips, contact your local Fish and Game Office.