When Wild Animals Attack

Posted by Leighton Taylor on

Photo by miracles83. Used under Creative Commons.

You're out in the wild, breathing in the fresh air, and enjoying being one with nature. You've got your camp set up and you're looking forward to a relaxing time. Things are looking pretty good. Suddenly, you spy something that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. It's a wild animal, and it isn't one of those cute, cuddly ones either. Wild animals are unpredictable. They can choose to ignore you and blithely go their own way. Or they could do the charming thing and attack you.

What do you do if an animal does attack you? Do you run? Stand your ground? Stab it with your survival knife? Play dead? It all depends on the type of wild animal you have confronting you. So, read on and learn all about what you can do to avoid becoming the next thing on a wild animal’s menu.

Bear Attacks

Photo by Heath Alseike. Used under Creative Commons.

Bears might look cute and cuddly on TV, but all of them, no matter what species, can be deadly. Like any wild animal, bears attack when they feel threatened, or if they are protecting their young. They also attack if you appear to be competing with them for food. And then, of course, there are the bears that attack you because you are food. So, what do you do if you ever encounter a bear? Below are some tips that should help.

  • Never run. Regardless of the species of bear you’re facing, running will only trigger the attack.
  • Don’t make eye contact so you don’t appear aggressive.
  • Back away slowly but never turn your back on the bear.
  • If it’s a black bear or a polar, then make loud noises. It might drive the bear away.
  • If it’s a black bear and it appears to only be doing a classic bluff attack (trying to scare you away), then make yourself appear larger by waving your arms over your head. 
  • Make sure that the bear has an escape route so it won’t feel cornered and attack.
  • Try to move upwind of the bear. This allows it to scent you as human, alerting it to the fact that you are not its normal prey.

Now, if the bear is going straight at you with its head down and watching you closely, you might have to fight for your life. Your first line of defense is your bear pepper spray. If it still hasn’t stopped and is now up close and personal, try to hit the bear's vulnerable points - its eyes and nose - as hard as you can, using whatever weapons you have at hand be it your survival knife, a pot, or a jagged rock.

Mountain Lions

Photo by California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Used under Creative Commons.

You've probably seen how a mountain lion catches its prey in the wild. It will stalk the prey until it finds the right moment to strike. So, if a mountain lion thinks you're a viable food source, then you can be sure that when it attacks, you're seriously in trouble. If you are unfortunate enough to tangle with one, fight back aggressively; use anything you can get your hands on as a weapon - your survival knife, a rock, a stick, your pack, etc. Try to hit its eyes and stay on your feet. Convince it that you are not easy prey.

If you ever encounter a mountain lion in the wild, don't run, turn your back, try to hide, or crouch down. All of these actions will trigger the animal's instinct to attack. Stand tall and try to look bigger than you are. If the mountain lion shows aggressive behavior, make loud noises (i.e. shout), wave your arms, and throw rocks.


Moose can be just as dangerous as bears, especially during fall and winter. These large, stubborn animals often attack when they feel threatened or if they think you're trespassing on their property. While they don't have claws and fangs that can maim you, their antlers and hooves can do a lot of damage.

Now, most moose attacks are just bluffs - warning you to go away, so make sure to back away and put as much distance as you can between yourself and the moose. The good thing about moose is that they are not natural predators. Running away from them won't stimulate an attack response. In addition, if a moose tries to chase you, it won't do it for long, just enough to ensure that you're staying away.

If for any reason you can't run, try to get behind a large obstacle such as a tree or boulder and make sure that it stays between you and the moose. Even better, try climbing a tree. If the unfortunate happens and the moose gets to knock you down, make sure to protect yourself from its hooves as it kicks and stomps on you. Cover your head with your hands and curl up into a ball. Don't move from your position until the moose goes away. Otherwise, that moose just might think you need another beating to get its message.

Of course, there are a lot of other wild animals that can attack you while you’re enjoying the great outdoors. To fully prepare yourself for any possibility, make sure that you learn all about the wildlife in the area where you’ll be staying at and then be sure to bring supplies (such as your survival knife, some bear pepper spray, bells, or maybe even a gun) that can help you fend off attacks.  After all, you don’t want to end up being somebody else’s lunch.




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