If you've been following OutThere Colorado for long, you've probably read something about the 'rule of thumb' guidance from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which basically gives trailgoers a means of easily determining whether or not they're keeping a safe distance from wildlife encountered on the trail.
Here's how a trailgoer can follow the 'rule of thumb':
If a trailgoer spots wildlife on the trail, they should be able to cover the entire animal with a thumb in the 'thumbs-up' position at the end of an outstretched arm. If one is able to do this, it means they're probably a safe distance from the wildlife. Obviously, other factors may be at play that could require more distance – if the animal acting aggressively, for example – but this is a good place to start.
The video below shows what this means:
When traveling trails around Colorado, encountering wildlife is always a possibility. Regardless of how friendly, unaware, or unfazed wildlife may seem, realize that this non-threatening behavior can change in an instant. Always avoid interfering with wildlife. Maintain a safe distance, never feed them, and do not allow pets to interact with animals encountered on the trail. Remember, when a negative interaction occurs between a human and an animal, the animal is the one that pays the ultimate price in euthanization – as was the case last week with a young coyote that was killed after biting someone while multiple people were trying to play with it and pet it.
Don't be the reason an animal is killed. Maintain a safe 'rule of thumb' distance at all times.
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