What to be Cautious Of: Animal Encounters in Maine

Prevention: How to Reduce Wildlife Encounters

Stay Aware:

Being aware of your surroundings is extremely important, especially in the outdoors. Keeping an eye out for wildlife can help yourself and the animals stay safe. 

Avoid wearing headphones outside, as this could cloud your hearing for wildlife. When on a trail by yourself, try carrying a small bell or something to make noise every once in a while. This will let wildlife know you are coming, but also be mindful of people.

Keep Odors Away from Camp:

Scented items and food can attract wildlife. Try your best to be mindful of empty food containers, trash, toiletries, lotions, cookware, and other scented items. At night, it is best to store scented items and wash dishes at least 100 yards from where you are sleeping. Some examples of this could be in a vehicle, tied up in a bear bag, a metal bear box, or a bear-proof canister.

It is best to not cook next to where you are sleeping. This can help to keep odors from where you are sleeping if any animals come to sniff out the area. 

Follow Minimal Impact Practices:

Planning ahead can reduce your chances of mistakes in the outdoors. Leave No Trace promotes a set of ethics towards conservation of the outdoors, known as the “LNT 7 Principles”. You can learn more about this at their website, https://lnt.org/why/7-principles/.

You can learn more about minimal impact on our website: https://umaine.edu/outdoorleadership/minimal-impact-recreation-in-maine/.

Give Animals Space:

Many animals don’t attack, unless feeling threatened or provoked, and distance is one of the best ways to give an animal space. If you see a bear, loose, skunk, etc. in the woods, it is best to give as much space as possible between you and the animal to prevent an attack. 

Yellowstone National Park says to stay at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves, and 25 yards away from all other wildlife, but this may be very dependent on the animal. 

A good rule of thumb is to hold out your thumb and try to cover the animal with your thumb. If you can completely cover the animal with your thumb, you’re at a safe distance away, most of the time.