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Wild Animal Attacks - Avoiding and Dealing with Them
By Steven Gillman

Wild animal attacks are not common. Dogs that live among us are a much more common danger. But there is something about being attacked by a wild animal that is especially disturbing. Of course, we want to avoid this nightmare, and if unavoidable, we want to survive it. Some tips on doing both follow.

Moose Attacks

More common than bear attacks, moose attacks can be just as dangerous. A bull moose can weigh over 1500 pounds. Attacks in the fall, during the mating season, are most likely. Winter is the second most common time - they are just pissed off because of all the snow and lack of things to eat.

Be especially watchful during fall and winter, then to avoid an attack. When you see a moose, watch closely. Do its ears fold back, or the hair on its neck stand up? Does it clench it's teeth? These signs show that it is upset and may attack you.

Go behind something big, like a boulder or tree. If possible, run and get into a stand of trees, but be sure they are not too bushy - you need room to maneuver, in case the moose continues the chase. The good news is that most moose attacks are "bluff attacks," which end shortly after they begin.

More about Moose

Mountain Lion Attacks

These animal attacks are not normally a bluff. Fight with everything you've got, using rocks, your walking stick, a knife - anything. A jogger in Colorado successfully got a cougar to let go of his head (it was in the animal's jaws) by sticking his thumb into the cat's eye. You have to convince the mountain lion that you're not the easy meal he thought you were.

Before an attack - when you and the cat are looking at each other - your goal is the same. Let him know you're trouble, and look big, by standing tall with your jacket opened up. Yell, and slowly back away while looking for a weapon. Whatever you do, don't turn and run or crouch down - behaviors that will trigger the mountain lion's instinct to attack.

More about Mountain Lions (Cougar)

Bear Attacks

These come in two forms. The classic bluff attack is meant to scare you away, but may also kill you due to the size and strength of most bears. You can often survive by curling up on the ground and holding your hands around the back of your neck (to protect it).

The animal attacks when you surprise or threaten it - or its cubs. Bears in these circumstances make a lot of noise and may charge you repeatedly, stopping before contacting you. Avoid eye-contact and back away slowly.

The other type of bear attack is predatory. These are rare, but both black bears and grizzlies occasionally prey on humans for food. Such attacks are quieter. The bear will have its head down and come straight at you, watching you closely. He is assessing whether you are an easy meal or not.

In this case, don't play dead or you will be. Yell, make noise, and look for a weapon. In a worst-case scenario, you might have to fight for your life. Fortunately, most adult grizzly bears can't climb trees, so if there is a lot of space still between you (these bears are fast), you can try climbing to safety.

More about Black Bears    Related Article

Various Other Animal Attacks

Elephants may swing their trunks, kick up dirt and hold their ears out before an attack - and make noise. Get yourself behind a large rock or tree. If that isn't an option, run downhill - elephants are slower going downhill.

Snakes usually are just warning you, so step away slowly. It is very unlikely that a snake will chase you. Avoid the problem to begin with by watching the trail carefully and probing with a walking stick before stepping over logs.

Get between mother baboon and her baby, and the whole troop may attack. Back away, while shouting and clapping. Drop any food you have in your hands, and don't yawn or stare - these are signs of aggression to baboons..

Don't feed wild animals, or provoke them. Learn to use the zoom function on the camera instead of getting closer to wild animals. Basically, just use common sense to avoid animal attacks, and the rules above to deal with them.

Copyright Steve Gillman. To get the ebook "Ultralight Backpacking Secrets" for FREE, as well as photos, gear recommendations, and a new wilderness survival section, visit:

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Like this article?  You may also enjoy:  Do Walking Sticks Conserve Energy? by Steve Gillman, Ultralight vs Traditional Backpacking by Steve Gillman, and Breakfast Recipes by Steve Gillman


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