Getting outdoors is good for youth and adults both mentally and physically. Thousands upon thousands of people spend time outdoors in Alaska every year participating in various activities. Whether it is a stroll in an urban park or a more adventurous trek into the wild lands, you should be aware of your surrounding and the possible risks related to your activity. Fortunately for us in Alaska, we still have healthy wildlife populations and a lot of undeveloped land to tromp around in. This also means that we have a higher chance of encountering wildlife while out doing our activities. Seeing wildlife is a major reason why many people like to get outdoors, but it also comes with the responsibility of being educated about wildlife and how to act around it.
The weather in our state can be extreme. Be it the winter cold, the summer heat, the rain and wind, you should be prepared for it. Sending the kids out in the back yard may not be as risky as being on a remote adventure, but knowing how to prepare will make either activity more comfortable and enjoyable. Even trails and parks close to town may be on the edge of wilderness, so getting lost is a possibility even on a seemingly casual jaunt.
Don’t be intimidated, be prepared. We have compiled some links about wildlife safety and viewing ethics, weather preparation and water safety. Educate yourself, talk with experienced people that spend time outdoors, and do some of your own research to learn about the nature of AK.
And don’t forget the insects! Mosquito’s, no see-ums and/or white-socks can be a serious problem in summer and fall time in many areas. Make sure you have insect repellent and/or a head net.
Bears don’t just live in the wild lands of Alaska; they wander through nearly every community in the state. Alaska is the only state in the U.S. that has all three bear species. For the most part, bears stay clear of people, but if you spend time outdoors you should learn about bears and their behavior that will help keep you safe in bear country. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has a great on-line resource to help you learn about bears and about being safe around them.
Alaska’s Bears (www.alaskabears.alaska.gov)
Each year in Alaska more people are injured by moose than by bears. Cow moose protecting calves are particularly aggressive. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game provides some helpful information about moose and how people can be safe when moose are nearby.
Living in Harmony with Moose
What to Do About Aggressive Moose (http://www.wildlife.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=aawildlife.agmoose)
Cold weather is one of the things Alaska is best known for. If you live in the cold it is vitally important that you know how to be safe when temperatures drop. But, as the Alaska Centers website points out, we should also know how to protect ourselves when Alaska’s weather turns hot. In any location and temperature, knowing how to prepare can help keep you safe and comfortable and make your outdoor experience enjoyable.
Alaska Department of Natural Resources
Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Cold Weather Safety Tips-
Winter Weather – Outdoor Safety Tips from the Centers for Disease Control -
Alaska Centers Hypothermia/Heat Exhaustion Tips-
Up-to-Date Alaskan Weather Forecasts from the National Weather Service – http://www.arh.noaa.gov/
Animal Adaptations to the Cold (BLM publication)
With more than 44,000 miles of coastline, over three million lakes and thousands of miles of rivers, Alaska offers many opportunities to spend time on or near the water. This water is cold, and many people die each year in Alaska’s waters; most of them neglected to wear a life preserver. Safety should be a part of any recreation or educational program near water.
Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Office of Boating Safety -http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/boating
Alaska Marine Safety Education Association – http://amsea.org/
Outdoor Ethics and Leave No Trace
The wildness and scenic beauty of Alaska’s public lands (our home) attract tourists from across the United States and around the world. By reducing human impacts on wild lands, we can protect that wildness and beauty for future generations. Leave No Trace principles and outdoor ethics guidelines provide ways to do that.
Alaska Region Forest Service Outdoor Ethics
Alaska Centers Leave No Trace Tips
Wildlife Viewing Ethics
Alaska’s wildlife is alluring to residents and visitors to our state. Whether you enjoy viewing moose, bears, migratory birds or marine mammals you should do it responsibly. To get the most out of your wildlife viewing experience follow the viewing tips presented on the following websites. They will help you protect yourself, the animals and their habitat.
Alaska Centers Wildlife Viewing Tips
Alaska Region, Forest Service, Wildlife Viewing Tips - http://www.fs.fed.us/r10/ro/naturewatch/viewtips.htm
Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Viewing Site http://www.wildlife.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=viewing.main