JEROME, Idaho (KLIX) – The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is urging people who head outdoors this season to not disturb wintering wildlife.

After spending the summer foraging and bulking up their fat reserves, most animals have likely already reached their wintering grounds where they’ll spend the next several months until the weather warms.

Winter is when they are most vulnerable to the elements, John Tjaden, an office specialist with the Magic Valley office, said in information provided by Fish and Game. Just the sight of anything foreign to them, such as a person or motorized vehicle, can cause the animals additional stress.

Tjaden said such stresses cause animals to expend energy worrying if they should stay bedded down or flee.

“This situation can compound exponentially if this scenario continues to happen across several days or even weeks, especially if these animals are being bumped or make a run for safety.,” he said. “This scenario plays out the same with any stressor, from hunters, hikers with dogs, shed hunters, sleds, bikes, UTVs, and ATVs.”

While Tjaden said he wants people to enjoy being outdoors, they must be cognizant of how their actions may affect wildlife and consider the needs of animals as well as their own.

“Everyone enjoys seeing these majestic animals in such picturesque environments. These images make for a lifetime of lasting memories,” he said. “While you are out there recreating this winter, please give wildlife a large berth and always give them the right of way. While they may not look agitated, they most likely are.”