To many hikers, the concept of wildlife encounters on path is one thing of an “city” fable. However relying on the place you reside, it might be greater than believable and a matter of when, not if.
The excellent news is that wildlife encounters aren’t a cause to keep away from the good open air. Quite the opposite, as with all issues, being ready is half the battle. As a result of whereas bears, mountain lions, and different wildlife do occur, there are fairly a couple of issues you are able to do to attenuate encounters or scale back them completely.
Black bear close to common mountaineering path. Picture courtesy Erin Pennings.
Decrease Wildlife Encounters
Make noise. The underside line is that the majority wildlife desires to keep away from you as a lot as you need to keep away from them. So make loads of noise so that you just don’t shock them. This may be singing, speaking, and even clanging mountaineering poles collectively.
Journey in teams. A part of this comes again to creating noise. The extra of you there are, the extra noise you make inadvertently with out making an attempt. Bonus, loud youngsters on path make plenty of noise. Completely different assets advocate completely different group sizes, however everybody agrees that mountaineering with a bunch is the easiest way to attenuate wildlife encounters.
Don’t put on headphones. For those who put on headphones whereas on path, not solely are you much less prone to make noise, however you’ll miss listening to key noises which may clue you in to close by wildlife.
Take note of smells. Some bears can have a really distinct scent which you could detect from distant. If one thing smells funky, concentrate on your environment.
Hold youngsters and pets shut by. Don’t permit them to run forward and doubtlessly shock wildlife. Additionally contemplate that wildlife can come on to the path between you and a baby.
Keep away from mountaineering at daybreak or nightfall. That is when many animals, together with bears and mountain lions, are most lively.
Jordan Else with an elk in background. Picture courtesy of Jordan Else.
If You Encounter Wildlife
Be certain to not separate a mom and her younger. People aren’t the one creatures who’re protecting of their younger. And the worst place to be is between a mom and her cubs or calves. So be watchful, and for those who encounter wildlife, do your finest to remain out of the center.
Again away slowly. Make your self look like much less of a menace and again away slowly. Don’t flip your again or run, it doesn’t matter what you do. And, undoubtedly, don’t strategy the animal.
Speak slowly and quietly. This ties again into making your self look like much less of a menace.
Carry pepper spray and know methods to use it. A number of manufacturers supply a apply canister that you should use to get the dangle of how the spray works. It’s efficient towards bears and mountain lions, amongst different massive animals. Remember the fact that it solely works for those who’re extraordinarily near an animal, so it must be a final resort. And, bear in mind to not spray into the wind. (Tip: For those who completely should deploy the pepper spray, go away the world as quickly as potential as a result of after the depth dissipates, curious animals could come to research.)
Be Ready, however Hike at Your Personal Danger
What else are you able to do to be ready? For those who dwell in bear nation, wolf nation, mountain lion nation, moose nation…anyplace that has massive wildlife that may show a menace to hikers, there are most likely courses obtainable to you. Verify with the department of the park service closest to you, whether or not native, state or federal, and one can find a wide range of courses obtainable to you.
And whereas it goes with out saying that each hike is at your individual threat, remember the fact that wildlife assaults, although extremely sensationalized, are uncommon. It’s extra harmful to get in a automotive daily, but we try this with out considering twice.
So we encourage you to take acceptable precautions and have a good time making reminiscences open air with your loved ones.