Into the wild

Yesterday’s story in Minot Daily News about brave airmen rescuing a hiker attacked by a bison in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park near Watford City illustrated the real threat that North Dakota wildlife can be to individuals who wander into the wild.

Hikers and other outdoors enthusiasts are encouraged to use common sense and take reasonable precautions when encountering wildlife.

Encountering aggressive, dangerous predators is uncommon and perhaps this lulls people into a false sense of security. But bison and moose, for example, are potentially dangerous even without predator instinct. Most know to use caution, but still it is not uncommon for individuals to make mistakes when encountering these wild animals. While veteran outdoorsmen are well-versed in these animals’ behavior, there are often environmental factors that perhaps aren’t visible.

Keeping a healthy distance, using a telephoto lens as opposed to approaching close to wildlife, avoiding flash photography, being aware are good precautions to always keep in mind. First and foremost, particularly for those less accustomed to the outdoors, is to remember that wildlife is indeed wild, and animals don’t recognize that they might be in a park where families routinely visit on vacation.

Just as we need to take smart precautions to prepare for exposure to the elements, we need to remember to be just as cautious about other risks in the natural world. Furthermore, individually we must make sure to teach a healthy respect for all aspects of the environment to young people, to best prepare them for a life of fun and healthy adventure in our beautiful North Dakota outdoors.