Winter can be a great time to watch wildlife. Cold weather in the mountains will drive big game animals, such as deer and elk, to lower elevations. Snow in the hills and mountains makes it easy to follow the tracks of a rabbit or squirrel. Trees barren of leaves make it easy to spot a great blue heron roosting amid the branches.
At the same time, winter can be a difficult time for animals.
They have to use more energy to move and function in the cold and snow of winter. Unnecessarily disturbing animals battling winter conditions just depletes their energy reserves more quickly.
Wildlife biologists from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife remind wildlife watchers that minimizing impact to wild animals at this time can be critical to their surviving the winter.
A good way to watch wildlife this time of year is to use specific sites that separate viewers from wildlife by motor vehicle routes, trails, boardwalks and blinds. Using such areas is less likely to stress animals that are intent on finding food and shelter this time of year.
To make it easier for wildlife watchers, here are recommendations from the agency, Washington State Parks and start Department of Natural Resources on places to go wildlife watching:
CENTRAL PUGET SOUND