SURVIVING ANIMAL ENCOUNTERS
If you see an animal in nature, it’s exciting and a special treat, but you always have to be wary. The writers at Runner’s World have some tips for surviving animal encounters.
BEARS — Bears look cute and fluffy, but they are not something you want to see out in the wild. If you do, the first thing you need to do is make sure you are not between a mother and her cubs. That is the worst case scenario as the mother will go into protection mode. Get out of that position quickly, but move slowly. Preferably, move sideways to really give the bear space. When out of that position, you want to make it clear that you are not prey. Speak in a low, calm voice to the animal, make yourself appear large, if you have children, pick them up so they don’t appear small, and don’t turn your back. If attacked, try to scare off a black bear. Make noise and appear as a large as possible by opening your jacket or holding a running pack over your head. Grizzlies are a different story. If attacked, play dead until (hopefully) the bear loses interest and wanders off.
COYOTES — Despite being on the smaller side, coyotes don’t always scare off easy. They are the kind of animal that you need to stand your ground with so they don’t see you as prey. You also never want to turn your back to a predator as that will trigger predatory instincts, so as tempting as it may be to turn around and run, don’t. Instead, make noise by clapping your hands, shouting, and making any other loud sounds can usually shoo off a coyote.
FERAL DOGS — If you find yourself in a chase, stop running because continuing on will increase the canine’s aggression. Instead, speak to the dog, don’t turn your back, and avoid direct eye contact as the dog may view direct eye contact as a threat or challenge, especially during the act of a chase. If the dog continues to charge, drop a piece of gear such as a jacket or a bottle between you and the dog to distract the animal and lure it to bite the item instead of you.
MOUNTAIN LIONS — Mountain lions typically avoid contact with humans and scare easy, but if you run into one, do as you do with the other big cats and appear big, pick up children, and slowly move away. If the mountain lion keeps advancing, throw debris such as rocks and branches. Do not run. They are fast, and seeing your back will trigger its predatory instincts to attack.
SNAKES — While not all snakes are poisonous, you should treat them all as if they are. Back away slowly and keep a large radius of distance from the snake. Don’t scare it, especially if you see it coiled, as that is a defensive, attack position.
BEES — They say if you don’t bother a bee, it won’t bother you. And this is generally true, but sometimes you’re just in the wrong place at the wrong time. If you’re ever swarmed by bees, this is actually one case in which you should run. In most cases you should be fine as long as you receive a lower number of stings and are not allergic. However, if you receive more than 10 stings, she recommends seeking medical attention as soon as possible.
SKUNKS — They scare easy, so you want to remain calm and back away slowly around a skunk.
RACCOONS — No matter how much these little bandits may startle you while going through your compost, you can’t use spotting them as an excuse to miss work. (trust me)