As humans, we enjoy being outdoors in nature and playing in the snow. But for wildlife, winter is an extremely difficult time where food is scarce. The animals must conserve their energy, and they have developed a number of adaptions and habits to help them survive the harsh winter months: for example, living on fat reserves accumulated during the summer, storing food, reducing their activities and body functions, or going into hibernation. Human disturbance, however, can increase stress at this critical time of year, and winter can become a fight for survival.
To ensure that wildlife has sufficient peace and quiet, the Nature Park Karwendel increasingly relies on visitor management. Nature park ranger Sebastian Pilloni explains: “Knowing the right spots and staying on the designated trails gives you more opportunity to watch wildlife than trudging through the forests. You’re not doing the animals or yourself any favours.”
Anton Larcher explains some further rules of conduct: If you encounter wildlife, do not frighten or approach the animals, stay put and wait calmly until they have left. Also, visitors should refrain from well-intentioned feeding. The animals have adapted their digestive system to winter food such as old grass and needles, while increased intake of foods high in carbohydrate like bread leads to severe digestive problems. Visitors should also avoid feeding stations, which are usually signposted. If outdoor enthusiasts stay on the designated trails, the head of the hunting association doesn’t see a problem.
If you enjoy hiking in groups and appreciate the knowledge imparted by local guides, join our guided winter walks. Our nature park rangers conduct a series of tours where they share interesting information about the local flora and fauna.