Deaths due to wild animal attacks are fairly rare. In fact, deadly attacks by the family dog are far more common. However, when wildlife does attack and kill humans, it’s usually because the victims behaved in an ignorant or careless fashion when they encountered the animal. That’s why it’s important to know how to react when you come face to face with a wild animal while hiking or camping.
Stay Alert and Take Precautions
Before setting out, you should make sure you’re prepared for the possibility of encountering a dangerous wild animal, such as a bear, wolf, mountain lion, moose, deer or wild pig. Many experts recommend carrying an air horn with you as these will often scare the animals away or make you seem dangerous yourself. When walking through the woods, try to make as much noise as possible to alert any nearby animals to your presence. Many animals become aggressive when startled, and hearing you ahead of time gives them an opportunity to flee.
Don’t Try to Pet It
In places like Canada that have high populations of wildlife, more people are killed every year by deer than bears. It’s not because the deer ran out in front of cars. Shockingly, it’s because people tried to pet them. After all, deer are herbivores, so they’re gentle and placid creatures, right? Unfortunately, this is incorrect. Deer may eat plants, but when approached by a human, they can become highly aggressive. They won’t hesitate to attack with their hooves or antlers, sometimes causing fatal head injuries, internal bleeding and stab wounds.
Control Your Dog
If you’re taking your dog camping with you, be sure to keep them restrained at all times. When a dog sees, hears or smells a wild animal, chances are good that they’re going to take off after it or anger it with incessant barking. This sort of behavior can make the animal feel threatened and may provoke an attack on you, your pet or both.
When you’re faced with an animal like a bear, wolf or cougar, your first instinct may be to run away. However, this is the worst mistake you can make. These animals are predatory by nature. As soon as they see you flee, it confirms your status as prey and they will give chase. It’s absolutely critical that you remain calm. Back away slowly while keeping a close eye on the animal. If they become confrontational in any way, stand your ground and do whatever you can to make yourself seem more imposing. Stand on a log, spread out your arms and legs, wave your arms around and shout loudly. When presented with such a display, most animals will simply flee.
Just because wildlife attacks aren’t common doesn’t mean they won’t happen to you. It’s important to display a healthy fear and respect of these animals. Doing so could save your life.