Escaping Predators While Hiking

Could you escape a bear? Make sure you know what to do if you encounter a predator on your next outdoor adventure and keep yourself safe.

| November 2018

  • A male mountain lion gives a fair warning not to come any closer by hissing.
    Photo courtesy of University of North Texas Press
  • Former wildlife rescue and rehabilitation manager Andrea Dawn Lopez takes her knowledge of how to handle situations involving animals and compiles them in this practical handbook on how to deal with wildlife-related problems and concerns.
    Photo courtesy of University of North Texas Press

Playing in bear country, or any other predator’s country for that matter, is much different from dealing with these animals on our own turf. When you’re out in the wilderness, there are some things you should do to try and protect yourself.

Camping is one situation where you may be likely to encounter a predator, primarily a bear. Bears are very attracted to campgrounds because of the food they provide. If they’ve been fed by humans before, they may not be as shy as they would normally be, and they’ll begin to associate humans with food. This could mean a bear might be aggressive and pushy if he thinks you have what he needs.

The most important thing you can do is keep your campsite very clean. If the campground provides bear-proof trash cans, be sure to take all of your garbage to them instead of leaving it lying around your campsite. If you don’t have a place to empty your garbage, bag it, or even double bag it, in plastic bags and store it away from your tent. Don’t try to burn or bury your garbage because bears can still find scents and will try to dig it up out of the ground or your firepit.

Store your food safely! Keep all of your food and coolers in your car trunk, or suspend them from a tree. The recommendation is that you suspend food at least 10 feet off the ground and four feet from the trunk of the tree. This will help keep bears from getting to it. Be sure not to store your food in the same place where you sleep. This could be a dangerous situation for you! If you have food smells on your clothes from cooking, store those away from your tent in a secure place.

If you have been cooking, be sure to thoroughly clean your barbecue grill or stove. Any leftover bits of food or grease will attract bears or other wild animals. If you’re using a table, wipe it clean. You may want to bring a grease-cutting cleaner with you to make sure all of the residue and smells are gone.

Toiletries, especially perfume, may also attract bears. Bears tend to be attracted to sweet smells and will try to get at those as well. Store those away from your tent or sleeping area. Make sure they’re in a secure place. You can protect yourself while you sleep by making sure that you’re practicing good personal hygiene.



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