Trail Running And Wildlife Encounters



Last week on Friday, I was on cruise control towards the end of my afternoon run and before I knew it I came up on a rattlesnake sitting on the trail. It scared me and I scared it. I scared it enough that it raised up and lunged at me. I have come across a lot of rattlesnakes while running, but I have never had one strike at me. With that introduction to this post, I thought I would write about some of the dangers of running. This is not a post to scare or discourage anyone from being out on the trails running, but a post to give awareness to some of the potential dangers of being in the outdoors in general.

If you spend enough time outdoors you are bound to come across wild life. For me it was only matter of time before I cam e across a rattlesnake that lunged at me. Other wild life I have come across, while running in the mountains, are bears, mountain lions, deer, elk, moose, rattlesnakes, skunks, foxes, and raccoons. Some of my wild life encounters are more uncommon than common like seeing mountain lions and bears. Mountain lions and bears tend to avoid human contact. I should also add that some animals are less dangerous than other animals, but all animals in the wild deserve the same respect when we have close encounters with them because they are wild animals and can be unpredictable.

Bull moose browses beaver pond near Grand Tetons

Bull Moose

In 2009 ultramarathon runner Karl Meltzer had an encounter with a moose while running the Big Horn 100. The moose attacked him and it was pretty intense according to his account. It’s a fun account to read because every thing turned out okay and Karl ended up winning the race and setting a new course record for the race at the same time. Here is a link to Karl’s moose story in his own words.

With the potential of wild life encounters everyone spending time in the outdoors should know what to do. In general when coming upon mountain lions, bears and moose it is wise to just let them be and leave the area. Most of the time wild life  like this want to avoid you just as much as you want to avoid them. But even though most of the time they want to avoid you, you have to remember that these animals can be unpredictable and it is always best to leave them alone. Another important aspect to prevent any dangerous wild life encounters is to not mess with their young/offspring. If you mess with the offspring of mountain lions, bears, or moose you are asking for a whole lot of trouble.

Trail running is a lot of fun and wild life encounters make running on trails a lot more enjoyable, but remember to respect them as wild animals and you and the wild life will be better off that way.

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