Wildlife: Dangerous Encounters

"Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That's the problem." -A. A. Milne

Wildlife. One of the most thrilling and wonderful spectacles that can take place during an outing is coming across wild animals in their natural habitat. Most of the creatures you'll come across are entirely harmless, while others have earned an unfair reputation. With that said, there is still danger to be found for those unprepared. So what do you do if you find yourself face-to-face with one of these beautiful, yet deadly creatures? Well, I'm about to tell you!

BLACK BEARS: Black Bears are Black (Surprise!). They are also the smallest of the bears found in North America. They also tend to be the most cowardly of their larger cousins. In most cases, a black bear will simply not attack. They are more prone to evading or running off. In the rare case you bypass an aggressive one, it most likely has cubs or food nearby. Your best bet is to back away slowly while talking calmly, but don't make direct eye contact (Look beside or below it). This will likely be enough. If it continues to show aggression or charges towards you, you'll want to stand your ground. Appear as large as possible. Image you are one of those inflatable-tube-men you see outside dealerships. Wave your arms, and be as loud as possible. As I said, black bears are not the bravest things in the world. Finally, if things come to the worst possible outcome, you FIGHT. Hands, sticks, rocks, etc. Aim for the nose and eyes. Very few people are ever attacked and hurt by black bears, so this last resort is unlikely!

BROWN BEARS (GRIZZLY and KODIAK included): Brown Bears are... You guessed it, BROWN!. They are also larger than their black cousins. These creatures have little reason to fear anyone or anything. With no natural predators, they've never had a reason to not stand their ground. It is ALWAYS best to back away and show as little aggression as possible. A Brown bear may charge you, but it's usually a false charge. Do your best NOT to run. They are big, but they are faster than you. If you are unfortunate enough to get attacked by a brown bear, your best option is to play dead (Seriously). Lay flat on your stomach, with your hands clasped behind your neck. If you are wearing a backpack, leave it on. Spread your legs away from each other on the ground. The idea is, you want to make it as hard as possible for the bear to roll you over. In most cases, the bear will get bored or find you non-threatening. They will walk away on their own. -IF- the brown bear continues to attack you, even while playing dead, it is time to fight back with everything you have. Do not hold back anything. This really is life or death.

MOUNTAIN LIONS: Besides the bear, there are few things that can be more intimidating than encountering a Mountain Lion. I would know, as I've encountered multiple! Most of the time, you will never see them, as they move quietly and quickly, and usually are fairly lazy during the daytime hours. Like Bears, if you encounter one showing interest in you, it is best to make as much noise as possible, while appearing as large as possible. Despite their size, they are cats, and are not fond of such things. Because they are often unseen, pay attention to your trail for signs of a Mountain lion (Claw marks and scratch piles, for example). If you encounter kittens, the mother IS nearby, so leave immediately. If you have children or pets on a secluded trail, keep them within sight. Being attacked, there is no running or playing dead against these predators. Defend yourself, and just like most other creatures, go for the nose or the eyes. Most times, a mountain lion will surrender, as they are not fans of a long fight. With all of this said, I have encountered three, and in every situation they went their own way. 

WOLVES: Wolves are very similar to that of Mountain Lions, only a lot of the time if there is one wolf, there are more. Luckily, wolves do not view humans as prey, with the possible exception of small children. In most cases, a wolf will mind it's own business unless you happen to be too close to it's food source or cubs. In this case, just back away slowly (Never turn and run). Like the Black Bear and Mountain lion, noise is your friend, but not necessarily aggression. Be loud and obnoxious, kinda like that annoying aunt in your family (You know who I'm talking about). In the unlikely event of an attack, fight back. Nose and eyes.. Seeing a theme here? If you have time, and are near high ledges or trees, CLIMB! Unlike Lions and Bears, wolves cannot scale trees. If you can get high, you can wait it out and you'll be safe (You know, as long as there is not a Mountain Lion in the tree).

SNAKES: Snakes are simple. Just stay away and watch them from a distance. A snake (At least the North American varieties) will not chase you. They will not seek you out or hunt you down. Snakes are creatures the truly believe in self preservation. They know their limits, and a human is typically above that. Venomous snakes, of course, pose more of a risk, but almost all will give some indication or warning before attack. When it comes to snakes, preventive measure is the best course of action. Do not walk through grass tall enough to hide the ground, and if you must wear jeans and boots. If you hear a rattle, back up. Do not stick your hand, foot, or head in any unknown holes. Most snakes will also strike and let go, so you may get some unpleasant pin pricks in your arm at most. Even venomous snakes will choose not to inject their venom most times. IF you do get bit by a venomous snake, let the wound bleed freely for 15-30 seconds before cleaning. Create a LOOSE splint and do your best to prevent moving the bitten portion. Other than this, seek help as soon as possible, and do your best to identify the snake that bit you. 

SPIDERS: Everyone's favorite! I can't tell you how many people needlessly worry about spiders. Majority of spiders in the United States are COMPLETELY HARMLESS. Not only are they harmless, but most are not even capable of biting through human flesh. While there are many venomous spiders, most are not a worry to humans. The only ones for real concern in the United states are Widows, Recluses, and Hobos (no, that's not a typo). Like snakes, most spiders will choose to bite as a last resort, they understand that to bite something much larger than them will likely lead to their demise. Also like snakes, this is about preventive measures. I've never seen a spider chase a hiker down a trail, so just pay attention to what you are doing. Do not stick your hand in random holes. Do not reach deeply into brush to pick a pretty flower. Do not walk through tall grass without something protecting your skin. IF you do get bit, do your best to identify the spider, then stay calm. Death by spider bite only equates to about 4 deaths per year (This includes Recluse and Widow bites, which are not as deadly as the rumors would have you believe), so the odds are in your favor. If you do get bit, treat it similar to a snake bite. Let it bleed for 15-30 seconds, and wrap it loosely, but in a way that will limit you from using the part of your body that was bit. Seek medical attention as soon as possible to stop the wound from getting worse. Antivenoms are available for all venomous spiders (and snakes) in the United States.

24 Responses to “Wildlife: Dangerous Encounters

  • Great Post….

  • I know it’s dangerous but I wanna see a real wolf. I just don’t think I’d survive all those in the list if I happen to encounter them.

    • Wolves are amazing to see naturally. I’ve been lucky enough to come within about 15 feet of one. It just watched me for a bit and trotted off. It’s actually incredibly rare that an animal attacks. It’s all about respect and listening. <3

    • Jessica
      1 month ago

      Wolves aren’t dangerous. Just don’t approach them or provoke them. There are only two recorded wolf attacks in US history. Both of them were very unusually circumstances.

      • This is only partially true. The reason for the low rate is due to low numbers in the species and the idea that wolves have learned to stay away from areas traversed by humans. Wolves have been quite deadly in the past, and if you are on a trail and encounter a wolf, you are still run a risk, especially if cubs or Good are involved. I’ve included an excerpt about wolf attacks through history if you’re interested:

        “Although wolf attacks do occur, their frequency varies with geographical location and historical period. Gray wolf attacks are rare because wolves are often subsequently killed, or even extirpated in reaction by human beings. As a result, wolves today tend to live mostly far from people or have developed the tendency and ability to avoid them. The country with the most extensive historical records is France, where nearly 7,600 fatal attacks were documented from 1200–1920.[1][2] In modern times, they occur most often in India and neighboring countries. There are few historical records or modern cases of wolf attacks in North America. In the half-century up to 2002, there were eight fatal attacks in Europe and Russia, three in North America, and more than 200 in south Asia.[3] Experts categorize wolf attacks into various types, including rabies-infected, predatory, agonistic, and defensive.”

  • Our sons love to read about the mountain lion. They never see this animal directly, even in our city zoo. Just watching in the television. Hope one day they can see them.

  • Mountain lions are common where I live, but luckily I haven’t had an encounter with one yet! It’s also nice to now that snakes won’t be chasing after me if I see one haha

    Sondra xx
    prettyfitfoodie.com

    • As much as I love seeing people run from snakes, yeah, they are not very aggressive to those passing by! Mountain Lions are amazing creatures to see in person. I’ve encountered a handful on my travels, so far I have kept all my limbs!

  • Informative post! I haven’t seen any of the listed ones in person. My son and I read the post together. I know snakes only bite in defense so, human activities disturb them.

    • I’m glad you read this with your son! It’s so important that young kids get involved in nature and learn basic survival!

  • As a girl from WY, I have encountered my fair share of wildlife… Thankfully they were never insanely dangerous encounters although a moose did chase my sister and I once and we had to run into a house that was being built and hide! ha!

    • Hahah! A Moose? I feel like that would have been comical to watch… Only time I encountered a Moose is when it walked in front of my car while driving through a backroad in Arizona. It took its good ol’ time too. Thing was massive and knew that there was nothing I could do about it!

  • Jen Walker
    1 month ago

    I love to look at wild animals from the safe distance at the zoo. I don’t think I would handle an encounter particularly well if I’m being honest with myself.

  • I have dealt with every one of these at one time or another. Mostly in Arizona inn the mountains. I have only been attacked once and it was by a javalena protecting its babies. I ran and jumped over a fence to get away.

    • Yikes! I’ve encounter all but a Grizzly (though, I would love too!). Never been attacked though. Some ignored me others curiously watched… Glad you were able to escape the Javalena! 😉

  • Chelsea
    1 month ago

    Bears, bears, bears oh my. They are beautiful. It was also nice to hear that death by spider isn’t what I thought!

  • Congratulation, Bradley! I have nominated your blog for the Liebster Award. Check out my blog for more information: https://www.typeeighty.com/liebster-award/

  • i used to work in a natural science museum and we had a lot of these and other animals stuffed. it was such fun learning about their lives in the wild.

  • TColeman
    1 month ago

    I am so happy that these animals are not very common to come across where I live. These are some great tips and advice for of you do though.

  • I do believe that we as humans have the power to control animals…any type thereof. But something about respecting their habitat comes to mind.

  • Wow… This is such great info to keep in mind when hiking or camping!

  • Great post! You have been nominated for the Blogger Recognition Award.
    http://lattelindsay.com/random-ramblings/blogger-recognition-award/

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