Avoid Wildlife Encounters This Summer
Born Free USA warns outdoor enthusiasts on how to avoid conflicts with bears, coyotes and other wildlife.
Washington D.C. (PRWEB) May 23, 2013
Learning how to respect and respond to wildlife while camping, picnicking, and hiking this summer can mean the difference between co-existing peacefully and being in serious danger. Born Free USA, a leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, reports that there is an increase in wildlife encounters this time of year, starting around Memorial Day weekend, because families are enjoying activities that take place in the homes of these animals.
According to Adam Roberts, Executive Vice President of Born Free USA, “Many people are shocked when they actually encounter a bear, coyote, or other animal and get angry or frightened when this happens. It is important to be always alert and to remember that wildlife belongs in the wild and you are enjoying activities in their home. You are on their turf and you need to respect that. Therefore, learning how best to avoid a conflict from the start and to manage any encounter properly, can put you at ease and possibly save lives.”
“Fed wildlife is dead wildlife,” explains Roberts. “Keep food out of reach of wildlife and never feed wild animals intentionally or unintentionally. Once a wild animal becomes accustomed to hand-outs by people, they will feel very comfortable making it a habit to get close, and a deadly cycle begins. They will eventually be regarded as ‘nuisance animals' which opens the door to lethal control and other issues.”
Coyotes and Bobcats
Aggressive behavior toward people by coyotes and bobcats is most often a result of habituation due to feeding by humans. If approached by a coyote or bobcat, make loud noises (bang pots and pans; blow a horn or whistle; shake a can with rocks). Show dominance and re-instill their natural fear of humans. Do not run, as this may elicit a chase response. If hiking with dogs, in coyote country keep them on a leash. Small dogs may be especially tempting to a coyote.
Most negative black bear encounters are caused by surprising a bear or luring them with food. Bears have an exceptional sense of smell -- seven times more powerful than dogs - -and can detect odors over a mile away. Avoid packing odorous food and fragrant nonfoods (i.e. lotions), and use bear-proof, odor-proof containers (i.e. airtight canisters). Do not leave food or ice chests on decks or in vehicles.
Become familiar with techniques for hanging food out of bears' reach. Hang food and scented items at least 10 feet off the ground and five feet from a tree. Be sure tents, sleeping bags, and clothes are free of lingering food odors.
When hiking or in the back country, make plenty of noise to avoid surprising a bear. If you do encounter a black bear, do not run. This may elicit a chase response in the bear. Slowly back off and allow the bear room to pass or leave. Avoid direct eye contact and pick up small children to prevent them from running and screaming. Contain and restrain dogs.
Black bears may pounce forward on their front feet and bellow loudly, followed by clacking of their jaw. This is a sign of fear. Mothers with cubs sometimes make “bluff charges” -- short rushes, or a series of forward pounces, also a sign of nervousness and not intent to attack. If this happens, momentarily hold your ground. Then keep backing away and talking softly.
Porcupine and Skunk
Skunks always give warning to let their presence be known. They stamp their feet, then point their posterior. Skunks hold fire before spraying and only spray if attacked. If you encounter a skunk suddenly, stand still for a few seconds until the skunk senses that danger has passed and allow him to wander off. Or take two slow steps back and continue on your way.
Dogs are the most common recipients of skunk spray. If a dog is sprayed, mix 1 quart of hydrogen peroxide, ¼ cup of baking soda and 2 tablespoons of dish soap. Lather the dog and leave mixture on for three to five minutes before rinsing.
Porcupines are also pacifists, preferring to avoid trouble unless threatened. They can be attracted to camp sites, not for food but in search of salt. They will chew on anything with salt, including sweaty hiking boots. In areas with porcupines, keep boots inside tents or cars.
Other Outdoor Dangers
Beware of hidden animal traps. Steel-jawed legholds and other traps are widely used to brutally catch wild animals for their fur. Because they snap shut on any animal -- or person -- that triggers them, these traps frequently capture “non-targeted” animals including family pets. For every target animal caught in a trap, two non-target animals are trapped. Born Free USA has an online database of these non-target incidents at http://www.bornfreeusa.org/database.
Unsuspecting hikers and others may go to trails or parks with their dogs and traps may be located along the trails or paths but with no sign or other warnings. When this happens, dogs end up maimed or killed as the hikers struggle to free their dogs in time.
Born Free USA is a nationally recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to America the message of “compassionate conservation” -- the vision of the U.K.-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, along with their son Will Travers, now CEO of both organizations. Born Free's mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. More at: http://www.bornfreeusa.org; twitter http://twitter.com/bornfreeusa; Facebook http://www.facebook.com/BornFreeUSA.
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