Do you know what do you do if you see a potentially threatening wild animal? I feel as an avid wanderer in wilderness areas, this is good information to have in general. The first thing is do not stop to take photos. Do not let children or pets wonder ahead of you on a trail, keep them close and in view at all times. Here are some tips I have learned about a few common mammals you may see.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU SEE A COYOTE?
One coyote: Look at the coyote while slowly backing away. Maintain eye contact as coyotes are generally frightened of people and will not confront you. Make yourself large and imposing-looking. This can be achieved by holding a backpack above your head or opening up your jacket. Shout or make noise to frighten the coyote. Throw sticks or rocks to scare away if necessary.
A pack of coyotes: Do not approach the pack and give them plenty of space. Don’t stare at any of the coyotes or act threatening toward them. Most coyotes prefer to avoid human contact, so follow the above instructions about noise. Once they become aware of a humans, coyotes will usually avoid them.
If coyotes approach, do not turn your back to them, always face the coyote and back away slowly. Do not run away. If they attack, use pepper spray to the face, if you have it or fight back. Report the incident to the park service, fish and game, or police.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU SEE A MOUNTAIN LION?
Mountain lions area also known as cougars or pumas, depending on the region you are in. Mountain lions will rarely attack humans, usually they try to avoid them. But if you ever do run into one that is aggressive, stay calm and face the lion while raising your arms to appear larger. Back up slowly and give it a chance to leave. If they approach, wave your arms, shout, throw sticks or whatever is in reach. It they attack, fight back and stand your ground. DO NOT PLAY DEAD. Report the incident to the park service, fish and game, or police.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU SEE A BOBCAT?
The approach with a bobcat is similar to the mountain lion. Keep as much distance as you can between you and the cat. Back away slowly and deliberately. Avoid running, it may trigger a pursuit response. Make a lot of noise by yelling or banging on things. If the cat is rabid and attacks, defend yourself. DO NOT PLAY DEAD. Report the incident to the park service, fish and game, or police.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU SEE A BEAR?
There are three types of bears in North America, black, brown, and grizzly, it is a good idea to know the difference. Bears are naturally afraid of humans and the chance of getting attacked is low. But if you see one close by, like in a yard or campground, make a lot of noise right away and do not approach. If on a hiking trail, keep your distance, never turn and run away, this may trigger a pursuit and they will outrun you. If a bear approaches or follows, change direction, make noise, or throw things to scare it away. Use bear spray if they come real close, aim for the face. If the bear makes contact, DROP TO THE GROUND, LAY IN A FETAL POSITION, AND PLAY DEAD. Bears are strong swimmers and tree climbers, so avoid jumping in water or climbing trees. Report the incident to the park service, fish and game, police, or animal control, if they are in a residential area.