Idaho Wildlife Awareness
Idaho is known for many things, but there is one thing that can be said to bring the most people to want to live in Idaho or visit every chance possible. That is the wilderness and nature that permeates the state. There are hills and mountains and plains and even a few sand dunes. If there is any kind of terrain that you want to see, you can probably find it in Idaho. Of course, with all of that wonderfully varied landscape, there are tons of different animals to be found within them, all calling a different part of Idaho their home. If you are curious about what different kinds of species you might encounter in Idaho or what kinds of wildlife define the state, here are a few of the notable examples that might interest you.
Of course, the vast majority of the most interesting and exciting animals to be found in Idaho are mammals, which makes sense with humans being mammals ourselves. We share some kind of kinship with these animals that is hard to escape. Probably the king of these mammals, at least in Idaho, is the grizzly bear, which is also sometimes known as the North American brown bear, and which has the scientific name of ursus arctos ssp. Grizzly bears, as you have probably heard, are a variant of brown bears, and brown bears are spread all across the country. You might be surprised to learn that there are very few grizzly bears actually residing in the state. There only around a hundred grizzly bears living in the state at any given time. In fact, there are very few grizzly bears in general. Unfortunately, the grizzly bear is currently on the list of threatened species in the United States. The species is specially sought after by exotic animal hunters and poachers alike. Hunting is often necessary to keep an environment in balance, but it can also be taken too far, and such is the case with the grizzly bear. It is not endangered yet, but it could be given enough time and enough inaction.
It is pretty unlikely that you are going to run into any kind of bear during a stay in Idaho, but if you do, you are probably in danger. Here are a few tips that can keep you safe while hiking around the Idaho wilderness or even during a chance encounter closer to civilization. One of the biggest things you can do is make noise. You do not want to be too stealthy while traveling through a bear habitat, as there is a distinct possibility you will surprise any bear you come across. A surprised bear is a very dangerous bear. If you bring food with you into the wilderness, make sure it is either unreachable by any bears that come around, or in a container that does not allow smells to escape. A bear’s sense of smell is one of its best senses. If you do come across a bear, do your best to back away slowly, making yourself look as large as possible. Try not to appear afraid (A hard thing when confronted by a bear, but the animal will have some sense of your attitude). A bear is faster than you, so running is not an option. Do not look at the bear’s eyes, but do not turn away either. You want to be aware of what the bear is doing and make sure the bear knows that you are something that is both not to be trifled with and not a threat at the same time. It is still a wild animal, and any time you come across one will be a tenuous situation, but these general principles could help you see the other side of a dangerous moment.
If there is any competition with the grizzly bear for the king of mammals in Idaho, it is the gray wolf. They may resemble what has become man’s best friend, but they are very much like what dogs used to be. Like grizzly bears, there are only so many wolves in Idaho. There are maybe double the number of wolves as grizzly bears, and that is not saying very much. There are also several human factors that are threatening the lives of individual wolves and packs. Hunting is a problem. Though hunting wolves in Idaho is definitely regulated, there are people who will go around and ignore these regulations, whether they are willful in doing so or only kill a wolf by accident. Human expansion, especially in the form of ranchers claiming new territory, is also a danger to the gray wolf. Wolves often see a farm’s livestock and find an easy hunting ground. Naturally, the owner of the farm will defend their animals and this results in dead wolves. Moving past the troubles they face, gray wolves behave in ways that are startlingly similar to humans. As you are probably aware, wolves group together into packs, much like humans came together to increase their chances of survival. Normally, wolves mate for life and maintain their wolf relationships for a long time. They care for their children and have even been known to adopt cubs that have been left without parents of their own (Which has spawned any number of stories about orphaned baby humans becoming part of a wolf pack, some of which might even be true). You are very unlikely to come across a gray wolf in the wild. They tend to steer clear of any human contact and are unlikely to be surprised in the same way you might surprise a bear.
There are countless other species of animals that call Idaho home, but the gray wolf and grizzly bear are some of the most interesting animals you will never see. They are exotic and beautiful symbols of the natural power that resides in the state and are great examples of the kinds of natural beauty that can be seen from just a few days in the pristine environment that is Idaho.