Monday, July 13, 2015

Know Best Defense for Predators & Other Deadlies

Campers and preppers have a special need to keep up on "best practice" recommendations for dealing with potentially deadly animals of the non-human kind.

As the encroachment of people into previously wild lands continues, some animal behaviors are changing. Even those camping in nice campgrounds in rural areas may find dangerous wildlife encounters are on the rise. Those who boondock and hike are certainly at greater risk of encounters.

Preppers have special needs for awareness in a bug-out location. They may be focused on getting there and establishing defenses against human intruders yet forget they are now in a new wildlife environment with different "rules" and risks.

For example, let's look at the mountain lion (aka cougar, panther, puma) that lives throughout the western US and has isolated populations in places like Florida and Michigan. Cougar attacks on humans are extremely rare. and death from a mountain lion attack happens much less than death by snakebite or even dog attacks. Many of the few recorded deaths from a cougar are small children who were not accompanied by an adult -- something for parents to keep in mind when in a seemingly friendly outdoor area.

If you encounter a mountain lion, the recommended advice is to look as large as you can. Open your jacket, wave your arms, shout, throw rocks or sticks, etc. (Though be careful about bending movements that make you look smaller.) If the cougar feels cornered, it will be much more dangerous, so back away but do so slowly. Any movement that looks like sudden retreat will trigger the cat's "chase" instinct. Likewise, completely freezing or playing dead may make the cat think you are injured and easy prey.

Have children stand right behind or beside you. If you need to pick up a small child, so so without bending.

If you are attacked, fight back! You will surely be injured but almost all who fight back survive. This leads to the next concern:  how far away is help for your bleeding wounds? This speaks to not being out alone or at least to having a large bandana and/or some bandaging in your hiking/survival pack. (A post for another time perhaps.)

Now, those who know what to do in case of a bear encounter will immediately realize the above is mostly the opposite of what one should do with a bear. And that is the point of this post. Know your wildlife threats for the places that you will be, and know both how to avoid and how to respond to the danger.

Avoiding danger such as from rattlesnakes includes not putting your hands or feet where you cannot SEE. If stepping over a log with debris around it, use a hiking stick to first poke at the area your foot will be feeling to find purchase.

Again, arm yourself with knowledge and aids accordingly. When you google something like "bear attacks," look for trusted sources such as a Forest Service or Fish & Wildlife site.

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