Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - After a long, cold winter, the month of May will see western Montana residents and visitors streaming into the outdoors for all kinds of recreational activities.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 2 Education and Program Manager Vivaca Crowser has important advice for anyone headed outdoors as the spring weather beckons.

Crowser says Don't Let the Spring Weather Overrule Your Safety Sense

“All of a sudden after feeling like winter for months and months and months, it feels like spring all of a sudden,” began Crowser. “And so, I think with more enthusiasm than normal this time of year, we're going to be getting outside and enjoying all the things around us here in western Montana. So, lots of things are happening as we turn the calendar to May.”

Crowser said even though the sun is shining and temperatures are in the 70s, Montana’s waterways are either still iced up, or are flowing fast and cold.

Lakes May Still be Frozen and Rivers are Running Fast and Cold

“We've got state parks opening,” she said. “A lot of our parks open May 1, so that means once again there are opportunities to go visit those places during the day to camp fairly soon. Just be aware that a lot of our lakes are still pretty iced up because of the long winter, but I'm sure that will change quickly, but just know that it's not quite time to head out with your boat, but it will be before too long.”

Those venturing out on the trails around western Montana will begin to see wildlife and their young and to act safely and appropriately.

Watch out for New Fawns and Bears with Cubs as You're Hiking

“Springtime means that there's wildlife out and about as well,” she said. “So reviewing those safety tips for the potential of an encounter with a bear are important; making sure you have your skills about you for carrying bear spray and knowing how to use it, so review that. And then also just a good time to keep in mind that not just is there wildlife out there but young wildlife in the spring and so, remembering that if you see a young deer, a young elk calf out there that the best thing to do is just give it space.”

It’s tempting with temperatures warm enough to go swimming, that western Montana rivers are running high, fast, and cold with the risk of debris under the surface.

“It's really important to remember water safety in the springtime because we're so eager to get out there and get on the water,” she said. “Water levels have only just barely begun to rise in some places and we're just going to see that continue to trend up as the temperatures warm up, so it's really important to remember that even though the air temperature feels comfortable, the water is cold and moving fast. It's carrying all sorts of debris this time of year that we can't see underneath the water. So you know if you are going to get out there on one of our rivers, make sure you have experience behind you. This is not the time to get out there and start learning how to navigate a river; you want to be experienced. You want to always have your life jacket on.”

Get more details about spring safety by clicking here.

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