Spring is around the corner, which means life is going to start blooming! Insects will begin stirring, rabbits will multiply, deer will migrate, and everyone is going to be rising from their dwellings to enjoy all the sunshine has to offer! Stay alert and make sure not to miss any of the emerging beauty or dangers. Here are some larger animals that tend to wander in the spring months.
Coyotes- Coyotes are common to see nearly everywhere in Central Oregon. They are around the size of a medium-sized dog and are often gray or brown in color. They do not seek confrontation and will normally run away when they see you, but if they have a litter nearby they will stand their ground. If you see one and it doesn’t automatically run from you, make a lot of noise to scare them off and get the attention of your pup, put your pup on leash and walk the opposite direction. They normally travel in packs, so if you enter their territory and they confront you, it’s safest to just leave.
Wolves- Wolves are larger than coyotes, and usually larger than the largest dogs. Wolves are seen throughout Oregon but it is uncommon to run into them on the trail. If you see a wolf on the trail it is safe to assume it will attack you so make yourself big and back away slowly. Do not run, and do not make any sudden movements. Hopefully you notice them from a distance and can get your dog back to you and back to safety.
Cougars- Cougars are one of the largest cats in the western Hemisphere. They are a reddish-brown color and have powerful teeth and jaws. They have been spotted all over Central Oregon and have been known to attack humans and pets. Cougars usually roam in search of food, and unfortunately your dog is a perfect meal. If you see one on the trail, put yourself between your dog and the cougar, make yourself big, wave your arms, keep eye contact, and back away slowly while speaking in a firm tone.
Deer- There are several species of deer in Oregon, the Mule Deer and Black-Tailed Deer are the most common. Deer will do their best to stay as far away from you and your pup as possible, but we do sometimes sneak up on them, and they will defend themselves if threatened. Dogs have been known to chase deer, and the deers respond by kicking with their rear hooves or rearing up and boxing, using their front legs to keep danger away. Male deer will also use their antlers as defense. Deer are more than capable of skinning a dog, breaking their bones, and sometimes killing them. If you see deer, make a lot of noise to warn them that you are near and to get your pup’s attention on you. Leash them up until the and move away from the deer. Their scent will linger so don’t unleash your dog too soon.
Elk- Elk are found throughout Oregon. They are larger than deer, less common to run into, and more dangerous. They have large, powerful bodies and males have long, pointed antlers. They will defend themselves if they feel threatened. If you see one, calmly collect your dog and walk in the other direction.
Moose- Moose are even more rare to run into in Oregon. They are huge, around 6” tall and can weigh up to 1500 lbs. Their antlers are used as threat displays, but can kill a human or pup. Again, if you see one, calmly collect your dog and walk in the other direction.
We share the trails with a lot of other living creatures, so be cautious and courteous. Make sure your pup is fluent in the important cues such as recall, and leave it. It’s important that your pup know to remain close to you and focused on you in dangerous situations. If they haven’t learned these cues, or haven’t built a reliable recall, keep them on leash when you’re out on the trail. A 20ft lead will ensure they are able to sniff and explore, and it will keep them close when things get too wild.