Whether you are camping, hiking, or just exploring, it is important to remember that the beauty of why you’re in nature also comes with the wildlife that lives there. While it can be exciting to see these animals, it can also be frightening and dangerous. That’s why preparedness and knowledge is your best defense when encountering wild animals.
1. Minimize surprise encounters.
Of course, your best defense is to avoid surprise encounters all together. The last thing you want to do is startle an animal by stumbling upon it. And you certainly don’t want to come between a mama and her babies.
Here are a few simple things you can do to avoid encounters with wildlife:
- Stick to trails, especially in remote areas.
- Make noise. It doesn’t have to be loud, but casual sounds like talking, laughing, and normal movement sounds will alert animals that you are in the area and hopefully they will move on.
- Travel with at least one companion. Being by yourself makes you more enticing prey.
- Study the area in advance to know what type of animal you may encounter.
- Don’t wear headphones. You want to hear an approaching animal or sounds of one ahead.
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Pay attention to your senses.
- Avoid venturing out at dawn or dusk or at least be alert since this is when animals are most likely to be out.
- Keep your eyes open for fresh tracks and excrement.
2. Know which animals are in the area.
Good preparation before your adventure will help ensure your safety while you’re out in the wilderness. Wildlife encounters are not always avoidable, despite our best efforts, so knowledge of the area is key.
If you’re not familiar with the area, contact the closest wildlife management agency to see if they have information about what type of wildlife is in the area. They may also fill you in on any specific sightings of concern and/or areas to avoid. You can also do your part by reporting any sightings or encounters once you’ve returned from your trip.
3. Know what to do when encountering a wild animal.
Another way to prepare is to know what type of animal you may encounter. You need to know how to react should you encounter a wild animal.
Here are some general tips on what to do:
- Do not come between a mama and her young
- Back away slowly.
- Do not run. You become prey to certain animals when you flee.
- Do not turn your back to the animal.
While these are certainly good tips, each animal’s behavior is different and they react differently as seasons change (like when mating and raising their young). We’ll cover some of these animals individually in future journals on the 2nd and 3rd Tuesdays. Keep your eyes open as we explore what you should do if you encounter certain wild animals. The first one we’ll cover is pit vipers since it’s now rattlesnake birthing season here in Idaho.
As always be prepared and carry a med kit.
Stay Safe. Stay wild, my friends!