Skip to Content

What to Do When You Encounter Wildlife at the Lake

What to Do When You Encounter Wildlife at the Lake

Encountering wildlife at the lake can be a thrilling experience. Still, it’s important to remember that these animals are wild and should be observed from a safe distance to avoid disturbing their natural habitat. Whether hiking, camping, or simply enjoying a day at the lake, knowing what to do is essential if you encounter wildlife. In this article, we’ll provide some helpful tips on how to react if you encounter different types of wildlife at the lake, including deer, reptiles, mammals, and insects. By following these guidelines, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for both yourself and the animals you encounter.

How to react if you encounter wildlife at the lake

Keep a safe distance

It is essential to keep a safe distance if encountered by wildlife to ensure the safety of both humans and animals. Being close to wildlife can disrupt their natural behavior and increase their stress levels while also posing a potential danger to you, your children, and your pets. Maintaining a safe distance helps minimize these risks and allows you to enjoy the wildlife respectfully. It also helps protect their habitats and access to natural foods, which are essential for their survival.

Do not Run or make any sudden move

If you come across wildlife while on a lake, it is essential not to run or make sudden movements. Running can trigger a flight response in animals, leading to them attacking. Animals may also feel threatened if they make sudden movements and may feel the need to defend themselves. It is vital to remain calm and talk or sing in a low voice to let the animal know you are there and that you are not a threat. If the animal does not move away, slowly back away and do not turn your back on the animal. If the animal does not move away and appears uneasy, find a nearby large object, such as a boulder, to hide behind. If the animal still does not move away, stay put and wait for it to move away.

Do not feed the animals

 Feeding wild animals can have serious repercussions not only for you but for the animals themselves as well. Wild animals rely on their natural instincts to find food and care for themselves. If we feed them, they could become dependent on us and lose their natural fear of humans. As a result, animals may become aggressive and territorial, putting everyone around them at risk. This is why it’s so important to remember the saying, “A fed bear is a dead bear,” which applies to all wildlife, not just bears.

Moreover, feeding animals can disrupt their natural diet and lead to health issues. For example, some members of the Corvid bird family have earned the nickname “Camp Robbers” because they steal unattended food. At the same time, coastal wolves may become habituated to humans if fed from boats or kayaks.

Make sure the animal sees you

The animal needs to see you if you are encountered by wildlife because this will allow the animal to react naturally and in a way that is appropriate for its safety. If the animal does not see you, it may become startled and potentially unsafe for both you and the animal. Additionally, giving the animal space and respect is essential, so they can observe you, understand that you are not a threat, and move away if they choose to do so. By allowing the animal to see you, you can help ensure that its flight response is appropriate and that both you and the animal remain safe.

Call the authorities if necessary

f you encounter wildlife at a lake, it is best to call the authorities for expert advice and assistance. If the animal poses an immediate public safety issue or wildlife violation or is injured or dangerous, call 9-1-1. If you come across an animal that appears to be orphaned or injured, you may need to contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. If you are planning to visit the lake, also remember to respect the natural flora and fauna and be mindful that you may come across other wildlife like bears, mountain lions, and rattlesnakes, so it is best to call for assistance in the event of an encounter.

Bird near lake

What to do if you come across Alligator

Alligators are found in freshwater lakes, slow-moving rivers, and their associated wetlands, especially in Florida. If you spot an alligator, the best thing to do is to back away and keep a safe distance. If you encounter an alligator, you should not approach or try to touch it. You should also not make any sudden movements or loud noises. Alligators may become aggressive if they feel threatened, so it is essential to stay alert. If you are in an area with alligators, make sure to keep an eye out and stay away from the water. If you would like to observe alligators, it is best to do so from a distance with binoculars or a spotting scope.

American Alligator

What to do if you come across any stinging insects

If you encounter bees, wasps, or other stinging insects at the lake, you must first stay calm and move slowly away from the area. Do not swat or disturb the insects, as they may become agitated and more likely to sting. If insects fly around you, move away from the area quickly and try to stay in the shade if possible. Watch the insects, as they may follow you for a short distance. If stung, wash the wound gently with soap and water and apply a cold compress to the affected area to reduce swelling. If you have an allergic reaction or if the pain does not subside, seek medical attention immediately.

Bees getting inside the small hole of beehive

What to do if you come across Bears at Lake

If you encounter black bears at a lake, there are many steps you should take to ensure your safety and the safety of the bear.

  1. Do not panic. Remain calm and speak in a low, soothing voice.
  2. Slowly back away, preferably in the direction you came. Do not run, but rather walk at a steady pace.
  3. Keep your eye on the bear to evaluate its behavior and reactions.
  4. If the bear approaches, act boldly by shouting and throwing something at it. Do not climb a tree.
  5. Remove the safety from your bear spray, and be prepared to use it if the bear gets too close.
  6. Do not offer it food.
Bear standing on his hind legs in the autumn forest

What to do if you come across a Snake at Lake

If you come across a snake at the lake, it’s essential to stay calm and not panic. Do not attempt to touch or pick up the snake; this will only agitate it and increase the likelihood of a bite. Instead, back away very slowly from the snake and give it plenty of space to move away. Make sure to keep an eye on the snake, but don’t look it directly in the eye, as this may signal aggression. If the snake moves towards you, make yourself look as big as possible and talk loudly to let the snake know you are a human and not a threat. Be sure to keep an eye out for any other snakes in the area and pay attention to your surroundings to ensure your continued safety.

Calm dice snake resting on mossed stone next to the water

What to do if you come across Deer at Lake

Deer are usually not dangerous. However, giving them their space is vital as ensuring they do not approach them. If you encounter a deer, leave it alone unless you are sure the mother is dead or the fawn is clearly sick or injured. If the deer appears to be aggressive, stay calm and back away slowly. If you have a dog with you, try to keep them from noticing the deer and quickly turn and walk in the other direction. If the deer charges, drop the leash and run away.

deer stag over alpine pond in Poland


What should I do if I encounter a mountain lion?

If you come across a mountain lion, you should look as large and intimidating as possible. Make loud noises and stand your ground. Do not look the mountain lion in the eye; this can be seen as a sign of aggression. If the lion begins to approach, slowly back away, and do not turn your back on the animal. Have your bear spray on hand, and use it if the mountain lion attacks. If the mountain lion does attack, fight back as aggressively as you can and remain standing.

What should I do if I encounter a coyote?

If you encounter a coyote, it is essential to remain calm and not approach the animal. You should make loud noises, stomp your feet, and throw rocks or sticks to frighten the coyote away. Additionally, if you have small pets, picking them up and keeping them safe is essential. When your pets are outside, keep an eye on them, especially at dawn and dusk, and keep dogs leashed, especially when on trails and in open areas. Do not let your dog chase the coyotes. If the coyote continues to approach you, continue waving your arms, making noise, and backing away slowly. Do not turn your back or run away.

How should I report any wildlife encounters?

If you have an encounter with aggressive wildlife, it is essential to report it to your state Wildlife Resources department. You can report the wildlife encounter online or by calling the Park City police department after hours or on the weekends. When reporting the encounter, be sure to provide information such as the species of the animal, the time and date of the encounter, the number of animals, any injuries, and whether you have seen an adult animal in the area. It is also important to describe the encounter and detail what may have attracted the animal to the location.