Sharing the Trails with Wildlife – A Wild Encounter

 Yesterday, we ventured into the principles of ‘Leave No Trace,’ which includes showing respect for wildlife. Today, we’re stepping into the fascinating world of our furry, feathered, and scaly trail companions, including some unexpected guests. It’s time to become a wildlife whisperer and handle those encounters like a pro.

Today’s Tip: Wildlife Encounters

As you traverse the trails, whether in the heart of Houston, Texas, or exploring new horizons, have you ever wondered about the diverse cast of creatures that call these landscapes home? Let’s embark on a journey into the intriguing world of trailside critters and learn how to navigate wildlife encounters with expertise.

The Cast of Characters: Who Might You Meet?

Scurrying Squirrels: These lively acrobats of the woods are a common sight. You might spot them darting through the trees or foraging for their next meal. If you’re quiet and patient, you can observe their antics from a safe distance.  But watch out, out of everything you see hiking and camping, squirrels are the most likely to actually bit you! This is mainly due to people feeding them.

Birdwatching Bliss: Keep an eye out for the diverse avian life. Houston’s trails are home to various bird species. With a pair of binoculars and a keen eye, you can enjoy birdwatching as you hike.

Venomous Visitors: While Texas is home to some venomous snakes, most are shy and avoid human contact. If you encounter a snake, step back slowly, give it space, and it will usually move away.  The stiffness of hiking boots and long pants help provide protection against bites.  Many bites occur from stepping on the snake or trying to pick it up.

Cute Critters: From raccoons to armadillos, you might meet these nocturnal creatures during your daytime hikes. In parks with camping, you’re more likely to see these during the day and they tend to be “braver” than the more “wild” one.  All animals you see while hiking are wild and should be treated as such.

Wild Boar: You can easily see evidence of wild boar while hiking in various parks.  It’s usually turned up dirt in circles.  The boar spins and digs in the dirt.  On occasion I see boar.  They can be extremely dangerous so keep moving.

Alligators: A general rule of thumb around Houston and in East Texas is if there is water, expect an alligator in it. While bayous and some lakes have more alligators than others, never assume water near Houston doesn’t have an alligator.

Hiking with Respect: Guidelines for Wildlife Encounters

Observe from Afar: When you spot wildlife, maintain a respectful distance. Using binoculars or a camera with a zoom lens can help you get a closer look without causing any disturbance.

No Feeding: Resist the urge to feed wildlife. Human food can be harmful to animals and disrupt their natural behaviors.  

Leave No Trace: Carry out all your trash, including food scraps. Litter can attract wildlife to areas where they shouldn’t be.

Respect Their Space: If you encounter a potentially dangerous animal like a wild boar or coyote, give them plenty of space to move away. It’s best for both your safety and theirs.

Stay tuned for more daily tips that not only spice up your hiking experience but also equip you with the knowledge to be a responsible and nature-loving adventurer. We’re on a journey to make our outdoor adventures not only memorable but also respectful of the natural world, one tip at a time.