Olympic provides wonderful opportunities to view animals in their natural setting. Along with this opportunity come risks and responsibilities for park visitors. If you are fortunate enough to see wildlife during your visit, do not approach, startle, or feed the animal. Feeding, harassing, or molesting wildlife is strictly prohibited in the park and subject to fines.
All park wildlife are potentially dangerous to humans and can sometimes be unpredictable. Following some basic guidelines may help to lessen the threat of danger and will help to keep wildlife wild.
Observe wildlife from a distance. All wildlife is protected in the park. Park regulations require that all visitors maintain a distance of at least 50 yards (half the length of a football field) between themselves and any park wildlife. Do not approach wildlife. If an animal approaches closer than 50 yards, move away to maintain the minimum required distance of separation.
Never feed wild animals. This includes all park animals;birds, squirrels, marmots, deer, otters etc., not just bears. Learning to beg for and/or rely on human foods is extremely harmful for all wild animals, big or small. Be careful not to leave wrappers, crumbs, or other food trash after picnicking or snacking on the trails. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers. Feeding wildlife can also increase risks to you and other visitors.
Keep children close. Keep children within your immediate sight at all times.
Avoid wildlife during sensitive times.This includes times when animals are mating, nesting, raising young, and during winter.
Avoid setting up camp on or near game trails.Hike and camp away from obvious animal paths, water sources, and signs like droppings or claw marks.
Store food properly and keep your camp clean. Cook and eat away from your sleeping area. Store your food by locking it in your vehicle or using a bear-proof storage container when in frontcountry campsites. When camping in wilderness areas of the park, all food, garbage, and scented items such as toothpaste, deodorant, sunscreen, toiletries, and chapstick, must be stored in bear canisters, hung from park bear wires, or hung at least 12 feet high and 10 feet out from the nearest tree trunk. Bears and most other wildlife are active 24 hours a day; have all food and scented items secured 24 hours a day.
Report Wildlife Encounters
Species of concern at Olympic include mountain goats, black bear, and cougars.
Mountain Goats:Please submit aMountain Goat Incident Formif you experience an encounter with a mountain goat, such as a mountain goat refusing to yield the trail, aggressive posturing, or approaching people at a distance of less than 50 yards.
Bears: Please submit a Black Bear Incident Form if you experience an encounter with a bear, such as a bear approaching you at a distance of less than 50 yards, a bear entering your campsite, or a bear that attempts to take your food.
Cougars: Please submit a Cougar Report Form if you observe or encounter a cougar in the park. Please report ALL cougar observations.
Mountain Goat Safety
Mountain goats may approach people in the park. Some have grown accustomed to being fed and, as a result, have lost their fear of people. This can potentially lead to aggressive behavior. Goats may "stand their ground" if encountered on the trail. Mountain goats also crave the salts found in human sweat and urine. They may follow people to obtain sweat soaked clothing or hiking gear. Male goats may become particularly aggressive during the autumn and early winter breeding season (October through December).
Goats have sharp, potentially lethal horns.
Following these guidelines, as well as the general wildlife guidelines, may help reduce the risk of harm to you and other park visitors.
Never feed mountain goats.
Stay at least 50 yards (half the length of a football field) away from goats.
If a goat approaches, slowly move away. If it persists, chase it off by yelling, waving your arms, waving clothing, or throwing rocks. · Urinate on rocks, bare soil, or snow at least 100 feet from the trail.
Do not leave clothes or gear unattended.
If you encounter a mountain goat within 50 yards, please report it to the closest ranger station.
This U.S. Forest Service video provides guidance for people recreating in areas where they are likely to have interactions with mountain goats.
Bats and Rabies
Bats are important and enjoyable parts of the Olympic ecosystem, where they are often seen as they feed on insects after dark. However, in the Pacific Northwest approximately 1% of bats are estimated to be infected with rabies and exposure can be fatal.
An exposure to rabies most commonly occurs when a person is bitten by a rabid animal. It can also be transmitted when the saliva from a rabid animal comes in contact with a person's mouth, eyes, nose, or a fresh wound.
The risk of acquiring rabies is extremely low, but the disease is fatal if not treated early after exposure, making it vitally important to treat any possible threat of exposure seriously. When a person is exposed to rabies, timely administration of a vaccine known as post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) can prevent infection.
Bats have small sharp teeth and may not leave a visible bite mark on the skin. Any bat encounter or exposure should be immediately reported to a park ranger and the person should consult a health professional.
The following guidelines can help minimize risk of rabies infection:
If you observe a bat with unusual or aggressive behavior or apparent loss of fear of humans, move at least 50 yards from the animal and inform a ranger.
If you are bitten by or possibly exposed to a bat, wash the affected area thoroughly and get medical attention immediately. Any contact with a bat is a concern.
A bat that may have exposed someone to rabies should be captured for testing. Contact a park ranger for assistance. Never handle a bat.
People cannot get rabies from having contact with bat guano (feces), blood, or urine, or from touching a bat on its fur. To be safe, bats should never be handled.