Hikers: Be alert for “aggressive” animals

During the spring and summer it is important to pay extra attention to your surroundings while hiking, especially if you take your dog with you. This time of year we see an increase in the number of reported “aggressive behavior” incidents. Right now, young bobcats, coyotes, and foxes are leaving their dens and starting to explore their surroundings. Naturally, the adults are protective of their offspring and may exhibit behaviors that they would not during other times of the year.

Photo: National Park Service from USA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
A bobcat kitten in vegetation.
A bobcat kitten resting outside of its den.

If you are on a trail and notice that a bobcat is staring at you, standing its ground instead of moving away, or growling at you, it may have kittens nearby. Coyotes or foxes also tend to be more bold this time of year when protecting their pups or kits. You may notice coyote adults following you as you are hiking or walking your dog. For the safety of your pet and for wildlife, it is important to keep dogs on leashes to prevent them from coming into contact with young wildlife. If you encounter any of these situations, move away from the area and alert the nature center or park staff about the encounter.

To read about a similar encounter that happen this year, read “A Lesson in Tolerance: Sharing the Trail with a Protective Mother Bobcat” in OutdoorIllinois Journal.