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Poll: Wild Animal Encounters

Not everyone has the good fortune to come across or see wild animals in the animal’s own environment. However, when it does happen, different people will react in different ways to the animals they see. Sometimes the reactions aren’t good and they can lead to bad results. However, to be fair, many people don’t know how they should act around a particular wild animal.

In this poll, we are taking a look at how you would most likely react to a given situation. Nobody knows for sure how they will react until they actually face the situation, but give your best guess.

  • Question /

    You are out berry picking and come around a clump of bushes to find yourself about 10-feet from a black bear cub. What would you do?

    • I’d try to pet it
    • I’d try to take a picture of it
    • I’d turn and run as fast as I could, away from the cub
    • I’d freeze and look around for the mother bear
    • I’d yell and try to scare the bear away
  • Question /

    You are in a forest, see an adult black bear about 100 feet away, and the bear attacks. What would you do?

    • Climb the nearest tree
    • Throw up my hands, yell, and try to scare the bear
    • Run away as fast as possible
    • Fall on the ground, face down, and cover my head with my arms
  • Question /

    You are camping and hear the sound of a mountain lion screaming in the distance. What would you do?

    • Yell, scream, make noise
    • Pack up camp and leave
    • Try to see the cat
    • Pay no attention at all
  • Question /

    You go to a National Park and while you are there, you see an American bison grazing several hundred feet away. What would you do?

    • Try to get closer for a better picture
    • Observe and take pictures from where you are
    • Look to see what everyone else is doing
    • Make it a point to keep your distance as best that you could
    • Run or drive away


What do you think?

13 points

Written by Rex Trulove

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  1. I really enjoyed doing this poll. I know about keeping my distance from bears due to a Warner Brothers cartoon with Elmer Fudd having to play dead while a bear was near him in Jellostone Park. What I did not was that Jellostone Park was a parody of Yellow Stone park.

    • Indeed it was/is. Bears do more than trying to steal picnic baskets, though. They will totally ransack a camp if they can smell food. The bears often encountered in Yellowstone are also Grizzlies rather than black bears, too. There are black bears in the park, but the grizzlies are considerably bolder and bigger.

    • That is a very good thing. Like you, I was raised from infancy in a forest, surrounded by animals. Even in winter, with snow on the ground, bears weren’t uncommon. Because of that, today I have no fear of wild animals, just a very large respect for them.

  2. Good questions Rex. 1. I’d look for momma. 2. For a brown or black bear you are supposed to yell scream fight, they can be bluffed. For a grizzly you’d better play dead. Always carry bear spray. Period.
    3. If I heard a lion some distance away, I would roll over and go back to sleep if it was at night. I would smile and think how cool it was to hear something so awesome. They sound like a woman or child.. Some have even reported screaming help, sounding like a woman in distress. 4. Keep your distance from all wildlife.

    • You are spot on, except for the second one. If the bear is already attacking, yelling and screaming won’t help. For an attacking bear, drop and cover your head. If it isn’t attacking, yelling and screaming can chase it away, if it is a black bear.

      Really good job on # 1 and 4. If you see a cub, freeze in place and look for momma. It is senseless to run without knowing where the mother is and running wouldn’t be wise anyway. People also tend to panic when they see the cub. It isn’t the cub that is the problem, though.

      You are totally correct with #4. It amazes me that nearly every year, someone gets trampled by a bison in a national park because the ‘look cute’ and they want a better picture. It may look cute, but it is also 1 or 2 thousand pounds of wild animal.

      • One year when the kids were 6 and 10 I took them on a mile hike. The trail started out straight, then looped back so you would hit the same trail on the way back. The whole way we would hear, crunch crunch snap, we would stop, the crunching and snapping would stop. We would convince ourselves that it was an over active imagination, we were just hearing squirrels we thought. On the way back there was these huge bear prints covering our footprints in the sand. He or she followed us for 2 miles. Never bothering us, just curios. Whew. good thing. We were not in grizzly territory, it was probably a brown bear.

        • Bears are definitely curious creatures. The same could be said of most apex predators. What a lot of people simply don’t seem to understand is that bears (et al) don’t attack without a reason. Humans have never been ‘natural’ prey, so bears will usually go the other way rather than confronting a human.

          However, I’m aware of two back to back black bear attacks a few years ago in California, both from the same cause. The victims were hikers in both cases and both times, the hiker was carrying opened candy. Bears totally love sweets and can smell them from over a mile away. There is little doubt that in both cases, the bears were actually after the candy. In both cases, the attacks could have been prevented if the hikers had simply tossed away the candy while going the other direction.

  3. Great pictures and questions Rex. Although I am sure I answered wrong on almost all of them, I think the best defense is a goof offence. If I ever came across a grown bear or a mountain lion, I think I would scream so loud that basically I would off balance them with my scream and that they would be scared off. But of course, I am sure that it is not the way to go about it. Can you enlighten me please?

    • The key to the attacking bear is “attacking”. If it is a chance encounter, you can yell and raise your arms to make yourself look bigger. It will usually cause the black bear to run. This will *NOT* work with a grizzly, though. Such a display to a grizzly is a challenge and they usually will attack.

      However, the question wasn’t about a chance encounter. Yelling and screaming won’t slow down an attacking black bear. If it is only 100 feet away and is on a full charge, you won’t outrun it and the bear can climb better than a human (again, black bears, not grizzlies). So the best option is to drop to the ground, face down. If the bear tries to roll you over, roll all the way so that you are still face down. The bear will probably bite and claw, but the chances are that you will survive.

      As for the mountain lion, if it is screaming in the distance, it is simply letting you know that it is there. It is virtually guaranteed that it knows that you are there. If it meant to harm you, you wouldn’t hear it coming. Thus, the best idea is to do nothing at all.

      • Great advice. If only I can remember it. I will probably have to write it down and learn it by heart. But the fact that I live in a fairly big city is to my advantage. No mountain lion or bears although we have squirrels, hares, skunks, raccoons a plenty, ducks and the occasional fox and deer. But I have to admit that I have seen a (what seemed to be a black) bear at about 200 yards away behind my then backyard fence about 21 or 22 years ago. It had come down from up North because the preceding winter had been so cold and long that it got hungry. My dog of those days, Princess, a shetland sheep dog wanted to go out and bark at him but of course, I did not let her. Also I did not have a camera and cell phones in those days did not have cameras either. But it was nonetheless an interesting experience.

        • The really sad part is that of nearly all bear attacks, the cause is almost always because of the actions of the person. This means that virtually all of them could have been prevented. In a national park, though, if a bear attacks someone, the park service will kill the bear, even though it wasn’t the bear’s fault.

          • And I find that reprehensible. People who go out on treks in National Parks are often having the time of their lives while disrupting nature and its animals. I hope they get a quick but extensive class before going in these parks to give them some pointers on how to act, react in front of wild animals. I do not know if the park rangers have that precautionary measure established as I have never been in a National Park here in Canada.

        • I suspect that Canadian national parks are run the same way that US parks are. If that is the case, they have a LOT of information available and the rangers are quite happy to educate anyone about the wildlife, if the person wants to learn, but there are no requirements that they take any special classes.

          • Oh I know they have information booth and posts but I think that it should be almost be mandatory for anyone entering a North America Park (whether in Canada or the U.S., heck around the world) to have a class or session of information. Make them compulsory instead of losing more animals. But I guess, everything today is set and geared towards money, time, limitation of personnel etc. All I want is to not hear of another poor bear, wolf, great cat etc. put down because of “stupid” people who enter a park with no clue of what to expect either because they did not ask or read the cautions before entering the park (BTW: I include myself in this group). Anyway, I have to go back to writing my own post. It was nice discussing with you Rex and getting your insight. Thank you again.

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