What to do if you encounter wildlife while hiking

With many trails all over the world, from the easiest to the most difficult and extremely long, hiking is an exciting activity that people do all the time. Like many other outdoor activities, hiking also comes with challenges. From getting lost on the trail to experiencing bad weather and sometimes dangerous encounters with wildlife. Wildlife generally keep as far away from humans as possible, and humans are also advised to respect their territory, but in case they are encountered unexpectedly, one must know how to react to avoid any conflict. For those heading to areas where wildlife is plentiful, here’s what to deal with wildlife.

ten Never feed wildlife

There’s no doubt that humans have a thing for wildlife, especially the cutest ones like squirrels. But it’s never a good idea to feed these animals, no matter how strong the temptation. Feeding wildlife can cause them to depend on humans for food. Even if the first person to feed them escapes danger, it puts the others in danger as the wildlife will be displaced to encounter ever more humans for food. It is not a good thing to be approached by a hungry animal for food, as it can put both parties in danger.

9 Don’t take wildlife by surprise

Sneaking up and scaring animals may seem like fun, but the excitement can immediately turn sour and become a dangerous situation. Indeed, wildlife can go into defense mode when surprised. To avoid scaring the animals, it is advisable to make noise during the hike. This will alert the animals to the approach of humans, prompting them to go deeper into the woods to avoid being seen by humans.

8 Don’t get too close

It is best to observe wildlife from afar. Unlike parasites that can be patted on the back or hugged, it would be a stupid idea to try patting a bear on its fluffy back or touching a moose. Such close actions can result in a confrontation that could end badly for one or both parties. A general rule is to stay at least 100 yards away away from aggressive animals such as moose or bears and at least 25 meters from other less aggressive wildlife.

seven Stay calm

The signs that wildlife will take to attack in most cases is if one loses one’s temper in front of the animal. In such situations, one should try as much as possible to remain calm and relaxed. This, in a way, tells the prey that it is not facing a threat. While remaining calm, one can slowly back away from there.

6 Never turn your back on wildlife (especially predators)

The instinct of predators is to attack when a person turns their back. This is especially true for cougars and other cats. When faced with such danger, it is best to back away slowly without making a full 180 degree turn to escape. These animals also typically stalk people from behind, so hikers should also occasionally check behind them to make sure nothing is stalking them from behind.

Related: Your Guide to Alaska’s Stunning Wildlife

5 Don’t threaten wildlife

Most animals will do their best to stay away from humans, even when confronted by them. When dealing with wildlife, do not try to be a hero by threatening or attacking the animals, as they will have no choice but to defend themselves when they feel threatened. In situations where you are faced with an animal, you should not be aggressive towards it because this can increase its provocation.

4 Use pepper spray or bear spray

In areas where predators like bears and mountain lions are particularly prevalent, hikers are advised to bring pepper spray in case of a bear encounter. Wearing pepper spray doesn’t mean looking for an animal to pepper spray. It should only be used as a defensive weapon if the situation is getting worse or if the animal has become too threatening. Remember that pepper spray must be used with precision as it can also harm the hiker if not used correctly. Once the pepper spray has been launched on the aggressive animal, it is best to get away as quickly as possible to avoid a second confrontation.

Related: 10 U.S. Parks Where You Can See Wildlife In Their Natural Habitat

Like humans, most animals are generally more dangerous when they have young to protect. Faced with an animal with young, try as much as possible not to be noticed and stay as far away as possible. When you meet them, it is important not to get between the mother and her babies so as not to be a target.

2 Research the types of wildlife in the area before visiting

While knowing what to do with wildlife is important, one should know the types of wildlife in the area before visiting. This information will help hikers prepare for the types of encounters they expect, so they are not taken by surprise.

1 Sometimes you have to be the aggressor

Animals such as cougars and wolves are difficult to repel, except the hiker scares the animal away by becoming the aggressor. To do this, stand up straight and make loud noises while throwing objects at them to create fear. This should only be done in the worst case when one has tried to stay away from them as much as possible.