The longest journey begins with a single step.
Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching
It's estimated that between 94% and 97% of New Hampshire is undeveloped land, making vast amounts available for natural wildlife habitat. Some of the finest wildlife watching in the state can be enjoyed while hiking in the White Mountains.
If you see a wild animal - especially a moose or bear - exercise caution. Do not approach the animal; remember, it is a wild animal! If you're in your car and want to observe the animal, pull over carefully (watch for other cars and pedestrians) and stay in your car.
If you see any type of unusual behavior, such as an animal pacing back and forth, or signs of aggression, contact the NH Fish & Game Dispatcher at 271-3361 or your local police.
Viewing Ethics and Responsibilities
Most people who spend any time outdoors care a great deal about wildlife and wildlife habitat. Unfortunately, even the innocent act of observing wildlife can have a great impact on the animal if it is not done properly. Observing a few guidelines will help us put the needs and safety of wildlife first, to conserve wildlife and habitats and respect the rights of others.
- Enjoy wildlife from a distance: The goal of successful wildlife watching is to see animals without interrupting their normal behavior. Wildlife send clear signals you are too close when they stop feeding and raise their head sharply, move away, change direction of travel or appear nervous or aggressive. These disturbances may result in an animal abandoning its young, injuring itself as it tries to escape, quit feeding at a time of critical energy need or displaying aggressive behavior toward you.
- Don't feed the animals. While it may seem exciting at the time to have an animal eat out your hand, there are potential serious consequences. Some animals that become accustomed to handouts may lose their natural fear of humans. This may cause them to become aggressive with visitors who refuse to feed them. This situation may lead to human injury, which in turn usually means the death of the animal involved. Human food does not meet the living requirements for many animals and may seriously harm them. Animals who have become accustomed to handouts may be faced with starvation once that food source is no longer available.
- Never chase or harass animals. In some cases, valuable energy resources needed for survival are used when animals are chased. Your wildlife viewing experience will be more successful if you leave your pets at home.
- Don't pick up orphaned or sick animals. Wild animals rarely abandon their young. In most cases the adults are nearby, waiting for visitors to leave before they return. If an animal appears to be sick or injured, behaves oddly or appears to be tame, leave it alone. There are a number of wildlife diseases including rabies that can affect humans.
- Honor the rights of private landowners. Always ask permission before entering private property. Leave no trace that you have been there.
- Respect the rights of other recreationists at a site. Be considerate when approaching wildlife that is already being viewed. A loud noise or quick movement may spoil the experience for everyone. Remember - you share the woods with many other recreationists including hikers, snowmobilers, mountain bikers and hunters. Most public lands are open to hunting and fishing.
—The above is excerpted from the New Hampshire Wildlife Viewing Guide by Judy Silverberg, Ph.D, the wildlife viewing coordinator for the state of New Hampshire. The book is available for purchase from NH Fish and Game.
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PREVENTING BEAR PROBLEMS
Black bears are found all over New Hampshire. Females typically weight 125 to 150 pounds while adult males tip the scales at 200 to 250 pounds.
Black bears are generally shy and usually avoid humans; with their keen hearing and good sense of smell, they're usually aware of us before we're aware of them. They can be scared away by loud noises. However, bears are opportunistic and will search for human food supplies when natural foods are not available. Maintaining a sustainable bear population in New Hampshire depends on minimizing human-bear conflicts. The majority of conflicts can be avoided. Here are some tips on preventing bear problems.
Preventing bear problems when camping: Remember: A fed bear is a dead bear! When black bears are fed, they quickly learn unbearlike behaviors. Sadly, this may lead to serious, often deadly, results for the bear. You can prevent this by following these simple guidelines:
What to do if confronted by a bear:
- Never intentionally feed bears to attract them.
- Maintain a clean campsite.
- Put food scraps in closed containers, not in the campfire.
- Do not cook or eat in your tent.
- Keep food and cooking gear separate from your sleeping area.
- Keep food in a closed-up vehicle or hang food at least 10 feet off the ground and 5 feet out on a limb that will not support a bear.
Much of the above information is excerpted from New Hampshire Fish & Game's Something's Bruin in New Hampshire: Learn to Live with Bears. For more on bears, visit NH Fish & Game's website.
- If loud noises, sticks and stones don't scare off the bear, back away slowly.
- NEVER turn your back or run away from a bear as this can trigger its hunting instincts.
- You can't get away from a black bear by climbing a tree. Instead, lie face down on the ground with your legs spread and your fingers interlaced behind your head. Your spread legs will keep the bear from rolling you over and exposing your abdomen, while your hands and fingers will protect your head and neck.
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Moose may be New Hampshire's best-known residents; there are an estimated 9,600 in the state. The largest land mammal in New Hampshire, an adult moose averages 1,000 pounds and is 6 feet tall at the shoulder. Cows have light brown faces and a white patch of fur just beneath their tails, while bulls have a dark brown or black muzzle. Only bulls have antlers, which can weight as much as 60 pounds. Moose can range over 5 to 50 square miles, depending on the season.
The breeding season is from mid-September through mid-October, a time of frequent sightings. Moose are seen throughout the year, often in swampy or wet areas near roads, and are active at dusk and at night when it's particularly difficult to see them. Each year nearly 200 moose are killed on New Hampshire highways, which is why you should…
Remember to "Brake for Moose" when driving on our highways.
Safe moose viewing is essential! Watch from a safe and respectful distance. Moose are bigger and faster than any person and give little warning before attacking a perceived threat. Cows are extremely protective of their calves. Bulls in the rut are unpredictable. No one should ever approach these animals no matter how tolerant they appear. Moose are unafraid, not friendly. A moose that decides someone has crossed into their "personal space" will knock down the offender and kick and stomp until the threat stops moving.
Much of the above information is excerpted from NH Fish & Game's website page on moose.
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According to the U.S. Forest Service, there are 183 species of birds in the White Mountain National Forest: 38 species are found year round, 35 are migrants or winter species, and 110 are found during the summer months. In addition, deer, fox, raccoons, squirrels and many other mammals and amphibians may be seen.
Black fly season usually runs from late spring to early summer. A good insect repellent will help keep the worst of the biters away. (Some people claim that eating raw garlic will also do the trick!)
Lyme diease has been reported in New Hampshire. A good insect repellent will help repel ticks, and the threat of disease can be minimized by quick removal of any attached ticks. A daily inspection is a good habit.
Here are some other ways to avoid ticks:
- Use insect repellent with 20% - 30% DEET on adult skin and clothing to prevent tick bite. Effectiverepellents are found in drug, grocery and discount stores.
- Permethrin is another type of repellent. It can be purchased at outdoor equipment stores that carry camping or hunting gear. Permethrin kills ticks on contact! One application to pants, socks, and shoes typically stays effective through several washings. Permethrin should not be applied directly to skin. For details on permethrin visit the National Pesticide Information Center.
- Wear long pants, long sleeves, and long socks to keep ticks off your skin. Light-colored clothing will help you spot ticks more easily. Tucking pant legs into socks or boots and tucking shirts into pants help keep ticks on the outside of clothing. If you’ll be outside for an extended period of time, tape the area where your pants and socks meet to prevent ticks from crawling under your clothes.
To find out more about ticks and lyme disease, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site.
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