Winter in the mountains, a fragile life

  • They need to maintain their body temperature despite cold weather, wind and snow.

  • Food is rare, and available food only provides low caloric value. Animals aim at saving precious energy.

  • They tend to stay in their comfort zones where life is a bit easier: forest edges, windy ridges and other snow free or sun-drenched zones.

  • They calm down their life functions and move only when it is necessary.

Animals are vulnerable and need
quiet and peace
in their living space.

In winter, when you leave your warm home and head out to the snow around your favorite mountain, you enter a vulnerable world. The animals there have to face harsh living conditions.

Some animals have specific survival strategies: They feed on fat reserves, spend most of their time in hideaways to protect themselves from predators or in igloos to stay warm.

Dangerous encounters

When you head out, you might enter the animals’ comfort zone – often suddenly, and without noticing it.

They perceive you as a danger, will be put under stress and will most probably take flight and burn precious energy in order to save their lives.

A sudden flight in a steep slope with 50cm of powder snow requires a Chamois to spend 60 times more energy than it would need for a walk under no stress.

A black grouse, once it took flight from its igloo, spends many hours perched on a tree before digging a new one.

Overall, negative effects from snow sports are 30 % more frequent than from any other type of recreational activities.

Stressed and weakened animals are more vulnerable to diseases and to natural predators.

Species you may encounter

click to know more about a species

Be Part of the Mountain

By acting responsibly, you help wildlife to survive.
You become part of the mountain.



quiet zones

In winter, animals need their comfort zones. Avoid forest edges, ridges and other snow free areas as well as marked wildlife reserves or wintering habitats.

Consider these zones while choosing and planning your tour.


Stay on


Stay on marked paths, recommendedroutes and existing tracks, so that animals can get used to human presence, especially in the forest and along forest edges.

Do not track animals.




Avoid disturbance by behaving and speaking quietly. Avoid setting out in early morning or evening hours. When you see or hear animals, stop and wait to let them escape. Observe them from a distance.

If you have a dog, keep it on a leash, or better, leave your best friend at home for your winter activities.


Know, evaluate
and reduce your


Your impact on wildlife depends on weather and snow conditions, species and period of the year.

Get the necessary information and evaluate your potential impact on vulnerable species.See tools below.

Making the right choices: Some help

Here is some further information to help you make the right choices while planning, out on tour or riding.

On tour or while riding –
the funnel principle

  • Above the tree line, have fun. Avoid, however, rocky ridges and other snow free zones.
  • Forest and their edges are an important retreat area for wildlife in winter. Think of a funnel when you approach the forest edge, limit your curves and cross this area on the shortest path.
  • In the woods, stick to skiing routes, tracks and trails or ride down forest aisles.

Planning your tour

  • Mapping of tranquility areas, Switzerland Link
  • Guidelines, information and on-site signs and printed maps from the German Alpine Club’s (DAV) Naturally on Tour campaign (Natürlich auf Tour) help you make the right choices.
    English | German
  • The Campaign ride wild – respect wildlife provides video material and species descriptions in short format. Link
  • The project POIA "Birdski - Towards a better consideration of the local birdlife through the ski resorts of the Northern Alps" provides more information on avifauna, bird monitoring and measures to protect wildlife in ski resorts. Link
discover the funnel principle

Take care of yourself and practise responsibly

And always remember, in the mountains,
we are only guests.