Wild Montana: Enjoy Wildlife Safely and Respectfully

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that Montana is wildly beautiful…with an emphasis on wild.

Big Sky Country is brimming with rugged backcountry terrain, pristine wilderness areas and stunning national parks. Glacier Country alone comprises more than 22,000 square miles of rivers, lakes, streams, waterfalls, wilderness, forestland and the Crown of the Continent—Glacier National Park. This place of wild wonder is vast and largely untraveled, and that’s why we’re so in love with it.

A black bear forages in Western Montana. Photo courtesy: tonybynum.com

While Montana’s wild nature is part of what has captured our hearts, it’s important to remember that it’s home to a variety of wildlife. Grizzly bears, black bears, bison, deer, mountain goats, elk, moose and wolves are among the wild residents who inhabit this special place. These magnificent animals are amazing to witness in their natural setting, but it’s crucial to remember that they are wild and we need to respect their space and keep them wild.

Here are some things to remember when visiting Montana.

Stay on designated trails, pathways and boardwalks. These areas are there for not only your safety, but for the safety of the animals.

View wildlife from your car or from a safe distance. You should stay at least 100 yards (the length of a football field) away from bears, and at least 25 yards away from other large animals, including bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose and coyotes.

This visitor is way too close to the bears. Photo: Yellowstone NPS Flickr

Do not approach wildlife, even for a selfie. Truth time: Yellowstone and Glacier national parks are not zoos. The animals who live here are wild, and there are no barriers between you and them. Never, under any circumstances, approach wildlife. Also, do not touch or pet them. Ever. Deal?

Let wildlife know you’re nearby. When hiking, be sure to hike in a group, carry bear spray, stay on designated trails and make noise at regular intervals. Pro Tip: Do not rely on bear bells as your noisemaker. Most of them are not loud enough to be effective and just end up disrupting the peace and quiet.

Stay safe and keep it wild!

Nicole

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