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There are so many things you can do to prevent a dangerous encounter with a wild animal on the trail. For starters you just need to take a little time before your trip to learn how to react to the wildlife in the area you are heading into. Animals are actually very predictable. This means you can learn their behaviors and what not to do around them so not to trigger an attack. I will post some links at the end of this article to assist you in your learning how to not trigger attacks from wildlife.

The best way to ensure you don’t have to worry about animals while hiking is through…

“ACTIVE PREVENTION”

Here are a few tips to “ACTIVELY PREVENT” animals from attacking you:

  1. Make your presence known before you enter their space (use a bell or make some noise while hiking. This alerts the animals that you are coming so you don’t startle them causing the animal to think they need to defend themselves)
  2. If you see an animal on the trail give it plenty of space. Remember this is their home and you are the visitor. If your actions cause the animal to alter theirs then you are to close.
  3. Don’t camp on animal trails as they generally lead to their homes or food/water sources etc… and will make them mad if you block them.
  4. Do not eat in or near your shelter or use yourself or clothing as a napkin. The scent of food carries in the air for a long ways and can attract them. They might not be after you but just want to try a taste of whatever it was you were eating and then misunderstandings happen and someone gets hurt. Best to eat in one location, shelter in a separate location, and store your food in a bear bag or bear vault in a third location. Be sure that your shelter is up wind of your food.
  5. Animals are early risers. They like to get going at sunrise. So to avoid conflict on the trails with animals heading to their feeding grounds and water sources in the morning consider waiting an hour or two after sunrise. Besides the coldest time of the day is 1.5hrs before to 1.5hrs after sunrise anyhow.
  6. Stay alert. Don’t hike with headphones on so you cannot hear your surroundings. Snakes and other animals very often give warning sounds before they attack. They generally don’t want a confrontation with you as much as you don’t want one with them.
  7. If you encounter an animal remember sudden movements and loud noises are stressful to them. Try to remain quiet, do not approach or try to feed. Do not force animals to flee. (Unless in bear country then see link below)

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These are wild ponies found on the Appalachian Trail. They are actively aggressive due to people feeding them and now known for mass muggings and shelter burglaries…

For more tips visit the links below referencing animals and leave no trace skills.

https://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/black-bears.htm

https://fixedbydoc.com/2016/12/23/leave-no-trace-principles/

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