Close Encounters With Wildlife
Going for a walk or hike with your dog is a great way to get some exercise and experience nature up close. However, close encounters with wildlife can be scary. You may be thinking, "There are no bears (wolves, coyotes, or puma) in my area." However, every part of our country has wildlife that is best to avoid.
There are plenty of critters to steer clear of besides bears and wildcats! Consider small animals like raccoons, opossums, porcupines, or skunks. Venomous animals like snakes, spiders, or scorpions. In some areas of the country, bees can be a problem.
These general tips will work for avoiding many close encounters:
Keep your dog on a leash. Many hiking areas have leash laws for dogs to ensure they don't disturb wildlife and other hikers - so follow the rules. Many wild animals will chase and possibly attack a running dog. If you are hiking in an area that allows off-leash dogs, don't let your dog run until he has an excellent recall. If Rover only comes when he feels like it, keep him safe and on a leash.
Stay on the trail. Most wild animals prefer to avoid running into people, and you have less of a chance of startling an animal if you stick to the trails.
Add a collar bear bell. It will alert critters in your immediate area that you're coming (before they see you), and most will head in the opposite direction.
Don't wear headphones in the woods. You won't hear an animal approaching or someone warning you about a problem ahead. It's also a good idea to keep your ears open around your neighborhood too.
Walk with a group. Noise and talking (like the bear bell) let creatures know you're coming, but a group of people will scare off most wild animals.
Don't run on trails that are known for animal encounters. If you have heard of wildlife problems in your hiking area, don't go jogging there. Many large wild animals will chase if you're running; it's just their instinct.
Let people know where you're going. Let someone know where you are hiking, when you're leaving, and when you expect to return.
Carry a first aid kit, water, and a cell phone. These items can be a lifesaver even if there are no wild animals in your walking area. You could fall, your dog could cut his foot, or you could both overheat.
Do your research. Be familiar with the threats native to your area. If you are traveling, do some research on the wildlife in the area you're vacationing in.
Be smart, stay very alert, look for signs of wildlife (tracks or scat), and make noise, and you'll most likely be fine. You can't anticipate what you'll encounter outdoors, but you can be prepared. Please go over the links below and if you are traveling, do some research on the wildlife in the area you're vacationing in.
Wild Animal Encounters