Hiking is a highly popular travel event. Hikers from around the world flock to some of the most unique and breathtaking locations in the world each year. Most travelers will hike at some point, even if their original travel purpose wasn’t for hiking. The main thing to keep in mind for all traveling hikers is that you should always leave the environment the same as it was when you left. Unless of course you find trash and pick it up, in that case it’s acceptable to “change the area.”

Generally, wildlife poses some threat in certain areas. For example, those hiking in Africa may need to beware of lions. Hikers in water areas will need to beware of poisonous fish or aquatic animals. But how can you avoid the animals without hurting them and while still enjoying the area?

Bears are a major threat in many of the north western United States mountains. There are grizzlies as well as black bears. If you come across a bear it may be interesting at first, and it’s perfectly ok to watch from a distance. However, if you are too close or the bear is too close to you, then you must follow a few steps to protect yourself. Most parks suggest making yourself look much bigger than you are. This can be done by surrounding yourself with a blanket and roaring loudly. This will usually scare a bear off, because they won’t want to target something bigger than them.

If you come across aquatic animals that may be threatening, move slowly away from the area. It is extremely important to remember that they are likely much faster than you are in water, so be careful and don’t make sudden thrashing movements.

Snakes, scorpions, and other poisonous creatures can usually be easily avoided. If one is in your tent then try to get out or get rid of the creature as quickly as possible to avoid any bites. Always check your shoes and blankets for poisonous creatures to prevent being bitten.

Avoiding wildlife and protecting yourself while hiking is imperative to your health and the environment around you. Never move suddenly or purposefully try to hurt a creature in the area. If you spot a dangerous animal near a campsite, you MUST contact a ranger as soon as possible. This is especially true for those in the Western National Parks of the USA!

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