Editorials

Hunting season: A walk on the wild side requires mutual respect

It's hunting season and that's usually a time when we think animals should fear humans.

But it's also a good time to remind folks to be wary of wild animals.

In just the past couple of weeks, a man was gored to death by a mountain goat in a Olympic National Park and a wildlife photographer was attacked by a buck mule deer near McNary Dam.

In September, a Bellevue city councilman was mauled by a black bear near his vacation cabin in Chelan County. The man ended up losing an eye and has had multiple surgeries since the attack.

All of these incidents should remind us that wild animals are just that: wild. And the animals that have been exposed to people so often -- like the mountain goat -- are even more dangerous. They've lost their natural fear of humans. And humans have lost their natural respect for wild animals.

No matter what, a mountain goat or a deer or a bear is always going to be stronger. These animals are pure masses of muscle, looking to feed and breed before wintertime is upon them.

And they're unpredictable. While they may look cute, cuddly or tame to the nave among us, they are not. Look at the cases in which wild animals allegedly have been domesticated by trainers, only to turn on their handlers.

Or the fascinating tale of Timothy Treadwell, who spent 13 summers living among grizzly bears in Alaska before being eaten by them. Anyone who has seen footage of Treadwell with the bears could have predicted that one was going to end badly.

Hunters are out this timeof year, and they are armed and knowingly putting themselves in close proximity to wildlife.

That group has made its choice and presumably has taken the necessary steps of safety and skills courses and learned a healthy respect for their prey.

It's the people out for day hikes or photo expeditions who need to steer clear and always be aware of their surroundings. Packing some bear spray or other deterrents isn't a bad idea, either. More often than not, we're infringing on the animal's turf.

So beware and be wary.

If you venture into the wilderness, give animals you come across a wide berth and the esteem they deserve.

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