Anyone who hikes and spends a great deal of time outdoors is more than likely to meet wildlife sometime in their lives.
While most animals we encounter are relatively harmless (squirrels, bunnies, birds, etc.), there are a few we should look out for: bears, mountain lions, moose, elk, wolves and sharks, to name a few.
Often our first instinct when we see a dangerous animal approaching is to run in the opposite direction. However, running is one of the worst things you can do because it will often trigger a chase response in animals.
Of course, the best way to avoid an attack from wildlife is to avoid an encounter in the first place. Wearing bear bells, talking and walking in open areas are all great ways to let wildlife know you’re around. By alerting them to your presence you give them the ability to get away from you without feeling threatened.
In addition to letting animals know you’re around, always avoid their young. Mother bears are notorious for stopping at nothing to protect their cubs.
If you do have a run-in with wildlife, here are a few simple tips that can help prevent a scary situation from turning into a deadly one.
First, hold your ground. As mentioned before, turning and running is one of the worst things you can do. Second, look bigger than you are; pull your coat up over your head and spread your legs. Third, make noise to try to scare the animal.
In addition to these tips, a can of bear spray can shoot up to 30 feet and deters almost any animal including the human kind–you know, the Weinstein kind.
Nature is a special place to a lot of people, but it’s home to even more animals. So when you go into the woods, be positive and respectful of the wildlife around you. Leave them alone and they’ll leave you alone.