The majesty of a wild animal in their natural habitat is unmatched. Animal watching can be a great way to catch a glimpse of the splendor of nature. A recreational hike or a ride through scenic roadways can afford one the opportunity to see many animals. It is important to understand when and where to see different animals so you are prepared when you strike out on a trek to spot that magnificent creature. Forays into nature during late summer and early fall, August through October, are great times to catch some magnificent sites.
Moose: August - October
The moose is one of those great beasts that many people set out to spot. It can be seen throughout the Northern Hemisphere, especially in the northern, coniferous forests. It is an awe-inspiring animal that can reach heights of 7 feet and weigh as much as 1,500 pounds. It is easily spotted during a drive along undeveloped areas of the highway or through scenic roadways. They can also be spotted on trips down the many waterways in New England. They like to munch on the tender water plants and the ferns and young trees along clearings and roadways. Late summer and early fall, as the nights begin to cool, is the best time to spot these giants. Early morning and dusk are common times for moose to be out and about.
Grizzly Bear: June - September
The grizzly bear can be seen along the Western Mountain range, from Northern California to Alaska. Alaska and Western Canada have a higher population than the continental U.S. These bears often make their way to the coast for the running of the salmon and can be seen along many streams and rivers. They can be seen from June to September fishing, lounging in the underbrush, or eating young shoots and berries. Some of Alaska's parks and sanctuaries afford the best chance of spotting one of these large brown bears.
Black Bear: May - September
The black bear has a much larger habitat, ranging from the Arctic Circle down to Mexico. It lives in the forests and mountains, and like its brown bear counterpart, can be spotted from late spring to early fall. Northern forests or the Appalachian mountain range make great areas to spot a black bear. It is active in the fall preparing for hibernation. This bear can often be spotted foraging in berry patches and along rivers. They are also often found around dump sites, or anywhere food might be left unattended for long periods. The black bear is spooked easily so observance from a distance is the best bet.
Bison/Buffalo: July - October
Bison, or buffalo, are an endangered species due to extreme hunting practices during the early to mid-19th century. Most of the bison today are located in Yellowstone National Park. They run free within the park and can be seen throughout the area. Bison mate from July to early August and the calves are born in April or May. These young bison can be seen in late spring and early summer. Bison can be seen throughout the summer and they are easy to spot on the prairies during late summer and early fall as they get ready for winter.
It is important to be safe and give the animals their distance when observing them. Many people have been seriously injured or killed due to pushing too close. The animals will often ignore watchers who keep a distance and this provides the best opportunity to see them in their natural setting. Pack a lunch, put on the hiking boots, or jump in the car, and head out to watch these splendid creatures.
~Ben Anton, 2008
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