A coyote in the wild looks towards the camera.

Wildlife Safety in Big Bear

Posted: 03/29/22

A trip to Big Bear Lake is a refreshing escape for those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Winding trails through the pine and oak forests offer a connection to nature rarely experienced in the suburbs. And surrounded by the San Bernardino National Forest, Big Bear can offer a glimpse at the wildlife that call this forest land their home.

While spotting wildlife can be beautiful and exciting, it's important to remember that they are wild and can in some cases be dangerous. Keep reading for tips on how to enjoy Big Bear safely and responsibly:

  • BIRDS & RODENTS - Some of Big Bear's most seen wildlife are squirrels, chipmunks, and birds. While these furry, feathery critters are not likely to pose a threat, it's important not to touch, pursue, directly feed, or try to capture them. Wild animals can carry diseases that spread to human through touching or bites.
  • COYOTES - Coyotes are one of Big Bear's most abundant larger animals. Coyotes are pack animals and while you may typically see them wandering alone, know that they are always part of a larger group. Late winter and spring tend to be mating season for coyotes and it's important to note that coyote behavior can change during this time. Coyotes can become more territorial, aggressive, and bold. Never leave pets or small children unattended, even in a fenced in area. This is especially true at night. Coyotes can easily scale high walls, fencing, and barriers into yards. To put it simply: if you love it, don't leave it!
  • BEARS - Any bear you encounter in Big Bear Lake will be a black bear. While they tend to avoid humans, they love food and will happily plow through your trash cans and even vehicles if given the chance. Secure all outdoor litter in bear proof containers and do not leave food in your car. Lastly, should you see a mama bear with cubs present - leave the area immediately! Mama bears are extremely protective of their young and will attack anyone or anything they presume to be a threat.
  • BURROS - If you're staying on the east end of the valley - Erwin Lake or Baldwin Lake - you may see wild burros grazing in fields or wandering near the highways. When in these areas, slow down and be especially aware at night as burros may present in the road. Do not attempt to feed the burros as accidental bites or nips can happen. Spooked burros can also rear and kick.

While these are just a few critters you may see in town or neighborhoods, be sure to review safety precautions for rattlesnakes and other critters can be found in the forests on the trails. SEE LINK BELOW FOR WILDLIFE SAFETY ON THE TRAILS.

As a general rule:

  • Do Not Ever Feed Wild Animals (it's when animals stop fearing humans that dangerous accidents occur)
  • Do Not Ever Approach Wild Animals (or allow children to chase smaller creatures like rabbits, birds, etc.)
  • Do Not Leave Small Children and Pets Unattended, even in enclosed areas
  • Do Not Hike/Bike/Camp Alone (especially at night)
  • Be Aware Of Your Surroundings At All Times
  • Know Where You're Hiking/Camping At Let Others Know Where You Are