Safety Tips for Run-ins with Wildlife

We’ve all heard, make yourself large and make noise, when we encounter a bear or a cougar, but what if that doesn’t work? And progress taking away the forest lands and areas where wildlife roam doesn’t help the situation. Is it a surprise the wildlife have encroached in our backyards? Cougars are the most efficient predator in America. A bear has an excellent nose and can smell a human for miles before we even see it.

According to wildlife biologist, Jim Williams, human encounters with these beasts are rare. However, they do occur and there were two recent fatal cougar attacks in Washington and Oregon. Mr. Williams suggests:

  • Go in a group. Hiking or running alone might attract these beasts because they look at you as vulnerable and easy pickings. Carry bear spray to defend yourself. Hike in groups of three or more to be safe. Avoid times of their hunting.

    nature animal wilderness head
    Photo by Pixabay on
  • Don’t run. Running from the large carnivores excites the predatory response.
  • Communication. Carry a phone and tell someone where you are going and your plan of return.
  • Fight back. If yelling and making yourself look larger by raising your coat over your head doesn’t work, throw sand and rocks in their face. Cougars have large eyes. They hunt at dawn, dusk, and at night and are a creature of vision. Bear spray in a cougar’s eyes is going to burn and will deter them from you. Grizzly bears are more aggressive, so back up slowly and leave the area. If the bear charges, use the bear spray. If all else fails, curl up on the trail on your belly and protect the back of your neck either with your backpack or hand. Aggression isn’t normal for black bears, so Williams suggests fighting back.

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