Yes, they are cute. No, you shouldn’t feed them. Feel free to snap a picture at a safe distance, but it is important to keep these animals wild.
Feeding wildlife causes problems for people and animals
- Feeding that cute herd of deer in your yard may seem like a nice way to help wildlife, but it’s often harmful to them and can create a host of problems for people. Wildlife are not pets, and shouldn’t be treated as such, even with the best intentions.
- Feeding some wildlife, such as birds and squirrels, can be a fun way to interact with them, but it’s not the same for deer, elk, and other wild animals. Those animals have evolved to survive in the wild without human assistance.
- When people feed them, especially if they become habituated to handouts, it can hurt individual animals, grow unsustainable herds, damage property, create traffic hazards, attract large predators, and more. That’s why you should resist the temptation to feed them and discourage your neighbors from doing it, too.
- Large amounts of highly nutritious food, such as alfalfa or pellets, can overwhelm their digestive system and lead to bloat and potentially death, especially in young animals.
- Feeding elk or deer can stop them from migrating to where natural food is available. Most mule deer migrate to lower-elevation ranges during winter. Feeding over time may cause animals to lose their knowledge of migration routes to winter range.
- Damage to native vegetation near feeding areas can also be a problem. Trees and shrubs, especially aspen and willow, can become heavily damaged and take a long time to recover.
- Crowding creates conditions that can lead to disease outbreaks.
- Wild animals need to remain wild. It’s understandable that people enjoy seeing them close to their homes, but when animals lose their wildness, they’re likely to lose their innate fear of humans and become too comfortable around people and in towns. That behavior can also be passed on to the next generation.
General Wildlife Tips
- McCall has black bears who often come into town looking for easy food.
- Never intentionally feed a bear! A fed bear is a dead bear. Those big black bear-proof trash cans all over town serve a purpose!
- Mothers with cubs are dangerous. If you find yourself near, or between a mother and her cubs, back away, shout in a deep voice, and try to make yourself appear large.
- While bear attack are VERY rare, it is important to know that if a black bear attacks, you should fight back. Do not play dead with a black bear.
- Tips from the US National Park Service if you encounter a bear:
- Identify yourself by talking calmly so the bear knows you are a human and not a prey animal. Remain still; stand your ground but slowly wave your arms. Help the bear recognize you as a human. It may come closer or stand on its hind legs to get a better look or smell. A standing bear is usually curious, not threatening.
- Stay calm and remember that most bears do not want to attack you; they usually just want to be left alone. Bears may bluff their way out of an encounter by charging and then turning away at the last second. Bears may also react defensively by wooﬁng, yawning, salivating, growling, snapping their jaws, and laying their ears back. Continue to talk to the bear in low tones; this will help you stay calmer, and it won’t be threatening to the bear. A scream or sudden movement may trigger an attack. Never imitate bear sounds or make a high-pitched squeal.
- Pick up small children immediately.
- Hike and travel in groups. Groups of people are usually noisier and smellier than a single person. Therefore, bears often become aware of groups of people at greater distances, and because of their cumulative size, groups are also intimidating to bears.
- Make yourselves look as large as possible (for example, move to higher ground).
- Do NOT allow the bear access to your food. Getting your food will only encourage the bear and make the problem worse for others.
- Do NOT drop your pack as it can provide protection for your back and prevent a bear from accessing your food.
- If the bear is stationary, move away slowly and sideways; this allows you to keep an eye on the bear and avoid tripping. Moving sideways is also non-threatening to bears. Do NOT run, but if the bear follows, stop and hold your ground. Bears can run as fast as a racehorse both uphill and down. Like dogs, they will chase ﬂeeing animals. Do NOT climb a tree. Both grizzlies and black bears can climb trees.
- Leave the area or take a detour. If this is impossible, wait until the bear moves away. Always leave the bear an escape route.
- Be especially cautious if you see a female with cubs; never place yourself between a mother and her cub, and never attempt to approach them. The chances of an attack escalate greatly if she perceives you as a danger to her cubs.
- The most likely place to see a moose around McCall is near the river, especially along the Meanders north of Payette Lake. Keep your distance and enjoy the view!
- Keep dogs leashed and never get between a mother and her calf.
- If you get too close to a moose, follow these tips:
- Look for warning signs: ears back, hair raised on hump (or “hackles”), grunting, stomping feet.
- Moose tend to bluff-charge, stopping short of you.
- Get behind a tree, rock, fence or car–anything to separate you from the moose.
- Moose often fight with their front hooves. If the moose hits you, play dead, curled up with your hands on head and neck. Your backpack makes a good shield
- Mountain lion sightings are rare and attacks even more so, but these big cats do live in and around the McCall area. One big reason we ask people not to feed the town deer are so that these predators are not lured into town.
- If you encounter a mountain lion, follow these tips from the U.S. National Park Service:
- Keep children close to you. Do not allow children to play along river banks, in heavy vegetation, or alone at dawn or dusk. When hiking with children, watch them closely and never let them run ahead of you. Observations of captured wild mountain lions reveal that the animals seem especially drawn to children.
- Do not approach a lion. Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
- Do not run from a lion. Running may stimulate a mountain lion’s instinct to chase. Instead, stand and face the animal. Make eye contact. If you have small children with you, pick them up if possible so that they don’t panic and run. Although it may be awkward, pick them up without bending over or turning away from the mountain lion.
- Do not crouch down or bend over. A human standing up is just not the right shape for a lion’s prey. Conversely, a person squatting or bending over resembles a four-legged prey animal. In mountain lion country, avoid squatting, crouching or bending over, even when picking up children.
- Do all you can to appear larger. Raise your arms. Open your jacket if you are wearing one. Again, pick up small children. Throw stones, branches, or whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice. The idea is to convince the mountain lion that you are not prey and that you may be a danger to it.
- Fight back if attacked. A hiker in southern California used a rock to fend off a mountain lion that was attacking his son. Others have fought back successfully with sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools and their bare hands. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the attacking animal