Is it just me or have there been an unusual amount of bizarre animal incidents in the news lately? Just this week, a bear broke into a house to drink orange juice, a mountain lion cat burglared a jewelry store, and a decapitated snake refused to die before he got his bite on.
While these are isolated incidents (not all cougars look good in gold), wild animal vs. human conflicts are way up this year and the bears, at least, seem to be pretty hungry. Homes near the woods have been frequent targets this summer, but hikers and campers should always be prepared for a run in with a wild animal. Luckily, attacks are rare and there are things you can do to lessen your risk even more.
To Avoid a Wild Animal Attack While Hiking or Camping:
1. Make noise while you hike. Talk, whistle, or sing (if you can carry a tune).
2. Be on alert at all times and aware of your surroundings while on the trail. No daydreaming or getting lost in thoughts of how great the dinner party was you threw last weekend.
3. Mountain bikers and runners should be even more aware–high speeds make it easier to surprise wild animals. The last thing you want to do is have a head-on with Mama Bear.
4. Keep children and pets on a short leash at all times (so to speak for the kids).
5. Avoid any animal carcasses you encounter. They’re what’s for dinner in the woods (not to mention they’re just gross).
6. Don’t bring smelly food with you. Think dehydrated, packaged camp foods–not greasy subs, pork rinds, or beef jerky.
7. Store food (including pet food) in vehicles or airtight, bearproof containers tied in trees 100 yards from your tent. And don’t cook dinner within 100 yards of the tent. p.s. Coolers and plastic bags with hand-tied knots are not bearproof.
8. Don’t hike alone or at night. And definitely don’t do both!
9. Never run from a bear or a mountain lion. You might be fast, but you’re not that fast. You can run from a snake if you want.
10. Carry bear spray and a flashlight. Strap both to your belt if you’re a quick draw.