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With human development encroaching further and further into what was once dense forest, the number of wild animal encounters has skyrocketed over the last few years. Even if you aren't an avid outdoorsman, it is good to know what animals call your neck of the woods home and what to do if you should even encounter one when you are out walking your dog or if you have decided to take the kids on a nature walk into the woods. We all share this planet and it is important to know non-violent ways of scaring off would-be predators that doesn't end in bloodshed.
Cougar encounters are becoming more and more common around the world, but luckily, scaring one off isn't too tough as long as you know what to do. First, never leave a child alone in an area that has cougars. Just like all predators, they will go after the weakest member of your group first. If you should happen to come across a cougar, it helps to make yourself as big as possible. Stand up, wave your arms, make as much noise as humanly possible and if you don't have anything heavy to throw, go after sticks, dirt, stones, whatever you can find. You can also help to avoid cougar encounters by making as much noise as possible when you hike so you don't accidentally come across one.
Under normal circumstances, you won't ever come into contact with a wolf unless you are hiking through the middle of nowhere. However, there are increasing reports about wolf sightings in the middle of towns as starving wolves approach human settlements looking for meals.
Wolf attacks on humans are incredibly rare, so the chances of a wolf actually chasing after you are almost zero, but the same approach mentioned above for the cougar will often work to scare away a starving and scared wolf.
Again, bears, under normal circumstances, do not see people as lunch, so if you have a bear acting in an aggressive manner towards you, something is very wrong.
The first thing you need to do is evaluate which type of bear is in front of you. If it is a smaller bear, you know, only 300 or so pounds, it is a black bear. If it is three or four times the size of that, you likely have a grizzly bear or a brown bear.
If you are dealing with a black bear, noise and throwing dirt and sticks will scare them off, but if it is a larger bear, do not use this method. They are often attracted by noise and will come over to see what all the commotion is. Don't climb trees; almost all bears can climb trees. You want to stay as large as possible, but if you are more than 300 feet away, try backing off slowing and going around the bear. If you are closer and the bear is coming at you, stand your ground and make yourself look big. If you have kids, put them on your shoulder. If a bear knocks you down, play dead.
A big part of surviving and avoiding snakebites is simply making sure you are prepared when you go out into the forest. Have a good idea of what snakes are in your area so if you happen to get bit, you can tell the local hospital what kind of snake it was.
Wear long pants and consider tucking your pants into your socks or vice versa. Not only will this help prevent ticks and mosquitoes, it will help to protect you from snakebites as well.
If you have rattlesnakes in your area, know what a nest typically looks like and be sure to listen for that tell tale sound when you are out and about.
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