Wildlife can be unpredictable and dangerous. But visitors need not worry much about being harmed by wildlife if they use a bit of common sense.
Always maintain a safe distance of at least 300 feet (90 meters ) from large animals such as deer and mountain lions, and at least 75 feet (23 meters ) from other wildlife. Never position yourself between an animal and its prey, or an adult with offspring. Females with young can be especially defensive.
Use binoculars, spotting scopes or long lenses for close views and photographs. Use an animal's behavior as a guide to your actions, and limit the time you spend with wildlife. If an animal alters its behavior due to your presence, you are too close. Allow other visitors a chance to enjoy wildlife. If your actions cause an animal to flee, you have deprived other visitors of a viewing opportunity.
It is illegal to feed wildlife, including squirrels and birds. Feeding wild animals makes them dependent on people, and these animals sometimes end up biting the hands of people who try to feed them. Diseases and/or parasites may also be transmitted from animals to humans.
Do not harass wildlife. Harassment is any human action that causes unusual behavior, or a change of behavior, in an animal. Repeated encounters with people can have negative,long-term impacts on wildlife, including increased levels of stress and the avoidance of essential feeding areas.
Hagerman Fossil Beds have deer which are often seen feeding on the Monument. They usually will see you and leave the area before you see them. If you do happen to come upon a deer on or near the trail do not approach them, they may look non-threating but deer can be very unpredictable especially with young and are known to injure people. Deer can also be seen in or along the roads. Most of the roads in the area are curvy and narrow, so slow down, observe speed limits. If you do see a deer near the road, slow down and look along both side of the road, deer usually travel in herds and they could be on both sides of the road.
Mountain lions (also called cougars) have been known to frequent the park. Seeing a mountain lion is considered a rare treat. Generally, there is no need to fear lions. Ironically, the animal that causes more human deaths per year than any other is not the mountain lion, but its primary prey -- deer.We offer the following recommendations to increase your safety:
Do not hike alone. Hike in groups, with adults supervising children.
Keep children close to you. Children need to be within your sight and on the trail at all times.
If you see a mountain lion:
· Stay calm. They usually will leave on their own. If they do not, hold your ground or back away slowly. Face the mountain lion and stand upright.
· Do not approach a lion. Never approach a mountain lion especially one that is feeding or with kittens. Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
· Do not run from a lion. Running may stimulate a mountain lion's instinct to chase. Instead, stand and face the animal. Make eye contact. If you have small children with you, pick them up if possible so they don't panic and run. Although it may be awkward, pick them up without bending over or turning away from the mountain lion.
· Do not crouch down or bend over. Biologists surmise mountain lions don't recognize standing humans as prey. On the other hand, a person squatting orbending over looks a lot like a four-legged prey animal. If you're in mountain lion habitat, avoid squatting, crouching or bending over, even when picking up children.
If the mountain lion moves in your direction or acts aggressively:
· Do all you can to appear intimidating.
· Attempt to appear larger by raising your arms and opening your jacket if you are wearing one. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice.
· If looking bigger doesn't scare the mountain lion off, start throwing stones, branches, or whatever you can reach in its direction without crouching or turning your back. Don't throw things at it just yet. There is no need to unnecessarily injure the mountain lion. With that said, your safety is of the utmost importance and the National Park Service won't necessarily prosecute you for harassment of wildlife if something you throw at an aggressive mountain lion does make contact. During the initial stages of a mountain lion encounter, the idea is to convince the mountain lion that you are not prey and that you may be a danger to it.
If the mountain lion continues to move in your direction:
· Start throwing things AT it. Again, your safety is more important than the mountain lion's.
If the mountain lion attacks you:
· Fight back! A hiker in Southern California used a rock to fend off a mountain lion that was attacking his son. Others have fought back
successfully with sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools, and their bare hands. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain
standing and face the attacking animal.
IMMEDIATELY REPORT ALL SIGHTINGS, ENCOUNTERS OR ATTACKS