The National Parks are busy preparing for the throngs of summer visitors. Also preparing are the many species of wildlife that are sincerely and extremely thrilled to become a part of your seasonal memories, Facebook photos and stories that you will share with family and friends at barbecues. No, really. They want you to know that they just live for that sort of shit.
However, the folks at CSU and the National Park Service would like to remind you that animals aren’t just cute and awesome — they can also kill you! And you can kill them, if you’re not careful, or get them killed by over-familiarizing them with human beings, or freak them out to the point that they become a danger to themselves or others. There are a whole lot of basic rules that everyone should remember when they’re out enjoying the wilderness — but the experts may have missed a few things. Hey, no one’s perfect, right? So, wildlife experts and animal lovers, here are ten more rules to follow. You’re welcome.
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10. Do Not Throw Mountain Lions Balls of Yarn
It doesn’t really matter if your cats have always loved it: If you throw a ball of yarn at a great cat, you will die knowing that the last thing you did was hit a cougar in the face with a ball of yarn. It isn’t a terrible last thing to do, but still, you want to put off that “last thing” for a while, because there’s no Beetlejuician waiting room where you actually get to tell that awesome story of your pointless demise.
9. Remember: Real Bears Do Not Ask for Picnic Baskets
Chances are if one does, that’s a dude in a bear suit. New rule: Also keep a safe distance from dudes in bear suits. You don’t know what’s up with that, and you’re probably better off not knowing.
8. Don’t Use Salt Licks in Colorado
Salt licks are illegal, and not just because their use is considered “baiting” wildlife, which draws moose, elk, deer and similar wildlife into areas and situations that may endanger them, people and property. It’s also terrible on popcorn and an intensely ineffective way to rim a margarita glass.
7. Be Considerate
It’s important to ask for permission before hiking or wildlife-watching on private land — but very few people remember to ask for permission from the elk before snapping shots of the herd. It doesn’t take much in terms of time and effort — a few short forms (notarized, of course), along with a small sitting fee (because the average bull elk has between six and ten offspring…that he knows of, if you know what I mean), makes a huge difference in the life cycle of one of Colorado’s most majestic and financially demanding creatures.
6. Bring the Good Camera
Wildlife generally prefers their images captured with high-end SLRs, with at least a modest selection of zooms and filters. If all you have is a phone, nothing less than an iPhone 8 (or the equivalent) will be allowed within the confines of public space in Colorado.
5. Do Not Let the Animals Have a Toke
Do not puff, puff, pass with the wildlife. This is important for various reasons. Pot tends to make bears paranoid, and you really don’t want to deal with paranoid bears. Moose and elk just get really talky and won’t shut up about their racks. Squirrels and chipmunks get crazy introspective, start asking themselves why they’re always rushing around and chasing shiny objects and what they’re really going to do with all those nuts, and they slip into melancholy. Fish just get all pissy that they can’t breathe, which means they can’t inhale, and it’s not fair, man. It’s a bad scene for just about all wildlife except for the deer, but they’re really trying to cut back and would appreciate you being cool about that.
4. You Don’t Sound Like a Wolf When You Howl
Let me translate what you’re saying in the language of wolves when you attempt to mimic them baying at the moon: “I’m an asshoooole! Ass! Ass! Hooooooooooooooooooole!”
3. Take Only Pictures
As in: Don’t steal shit. This includes plants, rocks, trees (even if — or maybe especially if — it’s for Christmas), animals or animal remains. Taking bones isn’t just illegal — it’s gross. Same for snake skins or the horns of deer, elk or sheep. If you think those look cool on your wall or shelves, why not try a clear vase full of toenail clippings? Same thing, essentially, and you won’t be breaking the law or making an innocent animal uncomfortable by displaying their bodily refuse.
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2. Leave Only Footprints
Normally, this implies that we shouldn’t litter. But really, we learned that lesson back in the 1970s, didn’t we? You know, crying Italian pretending to be Native American and all? Here’s a short list of other things you shouldn’t leave behind: poop (pet or otherwise), leftover food, that brochure you got when you entered the park that we all know you’re not going to read, used condoms and your children.
1. Some People Should Just Stay Home
You know if wildlife had air-conditioning and a couch, they’d be in front of the TV drinking a beer and watching some Netflix, feeling guilty that they weren't out seeing more of you.