Wild Idaho is a show all by itself. With vast open lands, road-free mountain areas, secluded timberlands, more than 2,000 lakes and reservoirs, huge wetlands and other managed sites set aside for their protection, hundreds of wild birds, animals and fish call Idaho home. And, at the same time, many non-resident, migratory others find the state an ideal, temporary residence.
| Trumpeter Swan
|| Moose in Snow
|| Pod of Trout
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with some other governmental agencies and several public as well as private organizations manage and protect wild Idaho. These supervised areas are perfect for you to observe a wide variety of animals in their habitat settings. In addition to these natural locations, interpretive exhibits featuring live birds, animals and fish have been established and maintained for public viewing. A good example of an interpretive exhibit for learning about wild Idaho is the Morrison Knudsen Nature Center.
The MK Center, opened in 1990, was developed by local volunteers working with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. This unique facility offers a one-of-a-kind fish and wildlife experience on a 4.6-acre site along the Boise River Greenbelt near downtown Boise. Several Idaho ecosystems are represented along a nature trail from the origin of the stream at an alpine lake to a lowland pond. Viewing windows along the stream give visitors a fish-eye view of the stream environment. The bridge spanning the pond is a favorite wildlife watching spot, where several species of fish, songbirds, waterfowl and mammals may be seen. To get to the Center from Interstate 84, take the Broadway exit to Park Boulevard, turn right, and follow signs to Walnut, turn right to the Center on your left side at 600 Walnut Street. Information: (208) 334-2225
Don’t forget to bring binoculars, cameras, maps and field guides for your viewing excursions into the wilds!
Please be aware that there are techniques and ethics involved in wildlife viewing. These include:
If you get too close, the animal’s behavior will let you know. If the animal keeps looking in your direction and appears nervous, or the animal stops going about its normal activities, or the animal runs away (or toward you), you are too close.
Don’t overstay your welcome. Try to make your observation short, then move along. Keep in mind that you might be disturbing to the wildlife’s normal functions.
Never chase after an animal. Don’t try to get closer for a better view or to take a photo. Moving closer or running toward the animal may harass the animal.
Keeping your distance and remaining quiet and still may improve your observation. The animal might become accustomed to your being there, rather than being threatened by your being there.
Approach an observation site quietly, slowly and in plain view. Too much noise, any sudden movement or exposure can startle Idaho wildlife.
Respect other viewers. Others have the right to observe the wild Idaho you are watching.
Respect property. Do your viewing on public lands whenever possible. If it is necessary to cross private property, obtain permission first. Leave gates as found and do not break down fences. Obey signs.
Respect the right of way. Drive only on designated roads, and park your vehicle in designated areas or pulled well off the roadway.
- Don’t try to get too close. Remember that you are near their territory. If you try to get to a closer observation point, you may be seen as a threat. Rewarding observations come from watching the wildlife going about their natural activities without fear.
Some call it birding and participants are called birders or bird watchers. Whatever you call them, they call Idaho a treasure trove for bird watching. From the miniscule hummingbird to the four-foot tall sand hill crane, the Gem State could easily be called the Bird State. Those who enjoy birding discovered the diverse variety of winged wild Idaho many years ago.
Whether you are a veteran bird watcher or merely a beginner, there are a number of spots around Idaho where you can get your fill of birding. For some ideas, go to
BIRDS OF IDAHO.
If you know where to look, opportunities to watch animals in the wild environment are available throughout the state. Great numbers of white-tailed deer, elk and moose can be seen, particularly in the northern reaches of Idaho. Bighorn sheep, mountain goat, mule deer, antelope, bear, cougar, wolves, coyotes and a host of smaller critters are also a part of the wild Idaho scene.
Observing many of these animals is possible. Seeing these animals in their natural habitat is a thrill you won’t soon forget. For more information, go to
ANIMALS OF IDAHO
The wild Idaho picture is loaded with salmon, steelhead, trout, sturgeon and a myriad of warm water species. This abundance makes for many fish watching opportunities. Fish watching? Yes, for the fisherman, observing fish is of particular interest. Fish can be observed in natural settings like rivers, creeks, lakes, reservoirs and ponds, and in the fish hatcheries found around the state.
Observing fish is fun and informative. Understanding the life cycle of fish and how they act in their natural environment is fascinating. To find out how, go to
FISH OF IDAHO.
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