How to Survive a Wild Animal Attack

It is pleasing to imagine wild animals as creatures with cute brown noses, big eyes, fuzzy fur coats, and a goofy Disney like temperament. The problem is that this isn’t usually true. Wild animals aren’t the genteel beasts that you see in movies. They can be dangerous, unpredictable, and incredibly strong.

Look at the case of Mark Reynolds, for instance. The 35-year old headed out for a trek with his mountain bike in California, in 2004. He never came home and was eventually found partially devoured by a mountain lion. Now, you won’t see that in a Disney movie anytime soon.

So, maybe these things do happen, you’re thinking. It doesn’t mean that all wild animals are dangerous. There have got to be some friendly critters out there. Well, you may be right, but the 41-year old Arkansas woman, who was attacked by a cougar would probably have a different opinion. In 2003, she was killed in her own garden.

This echoes a similar event, which happened in 1999 after a toddler was dragged away and eaten by a mountain lion. There are more stories. There are always more stories. They’re not restricted to just cougars either. What about bears, moose, coyotes, and bison? Ultimately, the wild is a dangerous place for people and if you want to learn how to survive a wild animal attack, acknowledgment of this is the first step.

Clearly, the best weapon at your disposal is common sense and awareness. If you are going to spend any time out in the wilderness, be aware of what is out there. Know what kind of environment you’re heading into and what it may hold. This is important because it is always better to just avoid predators if possible.

This means staying at a distance and putting measures in place to keep wild animals away from your tent or rest area. This might include any of the following steps:

– Keep your camp/area tidy. Food will attract predators, so never leave wrappers or packing on the ground. Wash all utensils and plates after eating. Seal all leftover food in airtight containers or hang it from a tree. You must place your food at least 200m away from the camp while you sleep.

– Do not, under any circumstances, take food into the tent. You should also avoid sleeping in the clothes that you cooked in. They need to be left outside.

– Never feed wild animals (deer, raccoons, squirrels) as this can attract mountain lions to your location.

Getting Ready for a Fight

Obviously, the last thing that you want is to have to go toe to toe with a dangerous predator. Thankfully, this is very rare. Most animals are as keen to stay away from humans as we are them and they’ll only approach if smell a free meal. However, incidents do happen and it is important to know how to survive a wild animal attack.

It is a good idea to carry a number of defensive items in your pack. This might be (at the extreme end) a gun or it could be something like a hunting knife or a club. You might even feel safer carrying pepper spray with you. Whatever you think might be useful in a close quarters attack is worth tucking into your bag or rucksack.

Deterring and Surviving a Bear Attack

The reality is that all bears are very dangerous. They certainly aren’t the cuddly creatures that you see in films. While they are just animals like us, with needs and survival instincts, it is important not to come out on the losing side in a fight with a bear. The most dangerous situations are if you accidentally surprise the animal or inadvertently threaten the cubs.

Bears are also much more aggressive when they’re hungry and haven’t eaten for days. It is brown bears that are the most dangerous species, but black bears are responsible for deaths too. In fact, they’ve killed over fifty people throughout the last century. The most recent incident occurred in 2002 when a female hiker was attacked and devoured by a bear in Tennessee.

The most immediate response, if a bear enters your camp, should be as follows:

– Never run. This marks you out as prey and the bear is likely to chase and attack you.

– Avoid any sudden movements. Keep your motions slow, calm, and deliberate.

– Lift babies and small children off the ground, so they don’t look like prey.

– Make lots of noise (bang pots and pans) to make yourself sound scary.

– Wave your arms above your head to make yourself look scary.

– Be careful not to cut off or corner the bear; leave as many escape routes as possible.

– Stand upwind of the animal, so that it can tell that you’re human (not regular prey).

Prevention Is Highly Encouraged

The one tactic that definitely works is avoidance. Just stay well away from bears of all kinds, but particularly grizzlies. The truth is that grizzly bears have no special love for humans. They have been known to eat people, but they’d rather stick to their usual prey. Most attacks only happen because the bear feels threatened.

Try not to be too silent as you move through the forest. On blind corners and in thick areas of trees, rustle the branches, talk out loud, tread heavily; this is usually enough to alert a bear and send them running in the other direction. If you chance upon an animal carcass, move away from it quickly and never approach bear cubs. Do not travel solo unless absolutely necessary.

In the Unlikely Event of a Full Attack

As mentioned, grizzly attacks are quite rare, but they do happen. Often, they could have been avoided with the right knowledge. If you encounter a bear and the animal spots you and doesn’t automatically wander away, you need to show it that you aren’t a threat or prey. The way to do this is to stay calm and back away slowly.

Speak softly, in a calm tone. This will indicate that you’re not a territorial rival. You are conceding to the bear and telling it that you don’t want to fight. Be careful not to turn your back on the animal and do not run. This will prompt an attack. Avoid staring too intently into its eyes, as this is a sign of aggression. You will know if the bear plans to charge because its ears will lower and so will its entire head.

The only helpful course of action if a bear charges is to instantly lie face down on the floor. Cover your head with your arms and shoulders to protect your skull and lie completely still. You need to convince the bear that it has killed and neutralized the threat that it thought you were posing. The bear will likely bite and claw you, but you must stay still. It could save your life.

If it becomes clear, however, that the bear is not going to leave, then it probably plans to eat you. Now is the time to fight for your life with everything that you have. A knife, a rock, a sharp stick, even your fingernails can all be a weapon if you apply enough force. Focus on the eyes and the nose and attack as hard as possible. It will be your last chance.

You Should Bring These Things on Hikes

  1. Sturdy Shoes – Whether venturing out on a one day hike or hiking over several days your feet are going to take a beating. It is imperative that you wear appropriate footwear that is both comfortable and will provide your feet with adequate protection from the surfaces you will be hiking over.                                                                      hiking-boots
  1. Navigation Tools – A GPS unit that is designed for hiking can be an invaluable tool for finding water, potential camp sites and to indicate the best exit route in an emergency but it is important to remember that GPS relies on satellite signals therefore it may not work in certain areas. Always carry a map and compass with you also.
  1. Extra Water – Dehydration, hypothermia and altitude sickness can all occur very quickly when the body is deprived of sufficient water. Always carry more water than you think you will need and bear in mind that physical activity raises the minimum water requirement. In addition, unless you can find a guaranteed clean water source on your hiking route it is wise to bring along purification tablets or similar.                                            91qbkhtcngl
  1. Additional Food – While you may have set out with the intention of only hiking for 3 or 4 hours you may find yourself taking a longer than expected break at a stream, or going further than originally planned. In addition to snacks to keep your energy levels up you should take enough food to keep you from becoming hungry should your return be delayed.
  1. Warm Clothing and Wet Weather Gear – Weather changes can occur suddenly and while you may have set out on your hike in warm sunshine you may find yourself hiking in rain and cold before you are able to get back to shelter. Always carry some form of protection from the rain and extra layers of warm clothing. Cotton should be avoided because it traps moisture in against your skin. A hat is an essential item no matter what weather you are hiking in.                                                                                                                                                                     female hiker warms hands with stove on cold morning wild camping at Horseid beach, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway
  1. Safety Equipment – At the very least you should carry a means to make fire i.e. matches or lighter, a flashlight or headlamp and a loud whistle. If for any reason you get lost you will need to build a fire to not only keep warm but as a signal of your location for rescuers to find you. A fire will also help you avoid hypothermia and can be used to boil water for hot drinks. A flashlight or headlamp will enable you to see your map or the path ahead of you should you still be out when it gets dark. The whistle is for you to call for help and direct rescuers to your location. It should be blown in 3 short bursts to signify that you are in trouble and need help.
  1. First Aid Kit – While this is an item that you hope to never need to use it may prove essential to your survival should you suffer an injury while out hiking. It should be well-stocked with all of the basic necessities. In addition, every member of your hiking party should be proficient in administering first aid.
  1. Multi-Purpose Tool and Knife – Equipped with a variety of tools such as a knife, screwdrivers, bottle opener, rasp, saw blade and others a multi-tool can be a lifesaver in an emergency. A sharp knife is also a handy item to take on your hike.                                                                                                                                                       gerber-diesel
  1. Sun Protection – In addition to a hat you should wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from glare of the sun, and off snow if hiking above the tree line. Sunscreen should be applied often as per the instructions on the bottle to prevent sunburn.
  1. Backpack – Regardless of how short or long your hike will be a backpack is essential for carrying all of the other essential items in. You want to have your hands free in case you slip or need to grab onto something to maintain balance. Remember that you may be carrying the backpack for several hours before being able to take it off so padded shoulder straps and adequate padding against your back is vitally important.