We love our neighbors at YMCA of the Rockies Estes Park Center and Snow Mountain Ranch – especially our wild ones. They nibble around the cabins, sleep outside the lodges, run across the fields and skitter through the trees. A great photo makes a lasting memory and souvenir from your trip and a fun talking piece when sharing with friends and family about your vacation.
But it is important to remember that, for your safety and the safety of our wildlife, watching and photographing from a safe distance is the best practice.
Elk, Moose and Deer
During late spring and early summer, female elk, moose and deer are calving and can be extremely aggressive and protective. When walking around the property or hiking on trails, be aware of your surroundings and give the neighboring wildlife plenty of space. A female with a calf hidden nearby will see humans as a threat. They have been known to charge unsuspecting walkers or hikers.
It’s exciting to see a bear in the wild, but here on our properties it can be challenging to keep them wild. Food left in unlocked cars or cabins or in unsecured trash bins are irresistible to bears. Once they have found a food source, they will keep coming back. If determined a pest, it will be put down. If you find yourself face to face with a bear, stand tall and make yourself look as big as possible. Shout and make loud noises, clapping your hands together or banging pots and pans. There is safety in numbers, so keep your group together.
Mountain lions tend to be shy and avoid confrontation. If you encounter one, let it know you are not prey. Don’t run, but face the lion and back away slowly. Grab a stick and make yourself look tall and dangerous. Pick up small children. If the lion acts aggressively, throw rocks or other objects at it and shout and wave your arms.
According to the experts at Rocky Mountain National Park, distance makes the heart grow fonder and it is important to keep your distance. They recommend staying at least 75 feet (about two school bus lengths) away from elk and bighorn sheep and at least 120 feet from moose and bears.
Enjoy the wildlife during your visit, but be sure to give them the space, distance and respect they need.