Whether you’re out in the wild, or in your neighborhood, it’s best not to approach unknown animals. Even if they seem friendly or look familiar, you’d be wise to never approach without cause. Unfortunately, it’s not only wild animals that will attack you, but seemingly domesticated pets are known to bite as well.
While this doesn’t mean you should be automatically scared when you see an animal in the wild, it’s best to stay alert to the possibility of attack. It’s also important to understand the steps you should take to defend yourself from an attacking animal.
If you live near a region that has bears, or if you’re camping or hiking in their territory, you should never leave food where bears can access it. It’s best to bear proof your property to avoid encounters with them. Bears are opportunistic, so you should reduce the things that will attract them. Make sure your garbage cans have airtight coverings. Remove bird feeders since bears will knock them down and eat the seeds. If a bear approaches your home, stay inside and let the bear scout your backyard. You can call a wildlife or animal control officer if the bear tries to get inside the home or will not leave the backyard. If the bear approaches you, stay completely still. In the case of a bear charging or attacking you, lay down on your stomach and play dead until the bear moves out of the area.
People are often surprised that moose are aggressive, but they are wild animals, too. They can be especially protective if they have newborns in the area. Moose are easily surprised and unpredictable. They can’t climb so if a moose attacks, you should climb into the nearest tree. A moose shows signs of aggression by walking towards you, stomping its feet or grunting. The best way to interact with an aggressive moose is backing away slowly and speaking softly. If the moose charges, you can move behind a rock or a tree. A moose weighs approximately 1500 pounds, so you don’t want to get hit trampled by one. If you can’t move away from it, curl into a ball on the ground and protect your head with your arms.
A dog wandering your neighborhood might seem like it’s not a threat, but more than 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs every year in the U. S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to a dog bite lawyer in Austin, TX, these attacks says can result in disfigurement, scarring, and mental anguish. If you think a dog may attack, do not run. Their first instinct is to chase you and you can’t outrun a dog. Stay very still while avoiding eye contact with the dog. Eye contact is a sign of aggression. Don’t yell or scream at the dog. An attacking dog might knock you to the ground. If this happens, curl into a ball and put your arms over your head and neck to protect yourself. Try to shove your clothes, purse, or backpack into the jaws of the dog while it’s attacking, if possible.
Whether you’re hiking or camping, mountain lions can be a threat especially to children. If you encounter one, do not approach it. They don’t like confrontation and will look for an escape, make sure you’re not cornering it. Allow it to run away from you.
It’s important that you don’t crouch or bend over when you see a mountain lion. You’ll want to stand tall and appear larger so you don’t look like prey. If you’re crouched, you look like a four-legged animal to them. If you’re attacked by a mountain lion, it’s best to fight back with anything close at hand like rocks or sticks. A mountain lion will try to attack the face or neck, so make sure to stay standing and face the animal with a weapon.
In the case of wild animals, it might be awe-inspiring to witness them out in their natural environment, but you should never be close enough to interact with them. They’re wild and distrustful of humans. They can attack if they feel threatened or if they think you’re prey. Play it safe and, chances are, you’ll enjoy nature to the fullest without ever putting yourself in harm’s way.
Emma is a freelance writer from Boston. Her interests include urban survival training and Urbex. In her free time, she enjoys baking, film noir, and indoor rock climbing.