This image shows someone using the 'rule of thumb' tactic to demonstrate that they are too close to the mountain goat in the frame. Photo Credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife, screenshot from video found below.

This image shows someone using the 'rule of thumb' tactic to demonstrate that they are too close to the mountain goat in the frame. Photo Credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife, screenshot from video found below.

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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Director of Content and Operations

Spencer McKee is OutThere Colorado's Director of Content and Operations. In his spare time, Spencer loves to hike, rock climb, and trail run. He's on a mission to summit all 58 of Colorado's fourteeners and has already climbed more than half.

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