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Nature safety key for beautiful weekend

The heat is on, or at least it is this weekend across Mid-Missouri. The thermometer continues to climb to summer-like conditions, which means more and more people will be outdoors, like nature enthusiasts taking part in outdoor activities.

One of those outdoor activities could involve a day on the MKT Trail, one of the hot spots for those who enjoy nature, and the Missouri Department of Conservation said it’s not uncommon to encounter wildlife while outside.

“It’s spring time you know, a lot of different wildlife is getting active for a variety of reasons,” Robert Hemmelgarn.

Just like the wildlife, many Mid-Missourians will be taking part in nature this weekend as well. If you are going to be out on the trail or in the woods, there are a few things you can do to keep yourself safe in case you come across a snake or a bear.

“The big thing to remember is you want to know how to identify our five species of venomous snakes and try to avoid them,” said Hemmelgarn.

According to the department of conservation, the top five venomous snakes are pit vipers. Those include the copperhead (most common), the cottonmouth, western pygmy rattlesnake, massasauga rattlesnake and timber rattlesnake.

Hemmelgarn says more often than not you won’t see a snake because they shy away from humans. However, if you do come across them it’s important to know how to distinguish what’s venomous and what’s not. He says you can tell by a vertical slit on the side of their head or cat-like eyes.

“If you do get bitten by a snake, the best advice is to seek medical attention,” Hemmelgarn said.

As far as coming across bears, Hemmelgarn says the best thing to do is not to approach the bear, make yourself known and big and make a lot of noise.

While it’s likely that you won’t come across either, it’s always important to be prepared and to always drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. In addition to that there are a few other suggestions to keep in mind, they are as follows:

– Remember to wear sunscreen

– Have plenty of bug repellent available

– Be sure to have a partner if you go hiking

– Let others know where you are going, in case of an accident

– Be sure to not feed any wildlife or take them home

Be sure to stay tuned to the ABC 17 Stormtrack Weather Team as we continue to track the warmer weather.

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