Every year there are reports of wild animals that have to be shot or killed because of their aggressive behaviors towards humans. Last year there were a couple of bears and a goat that gored a human who were killed in order to protect humans.
The number one reason wild animals become aggressive towards humans is because of humans. When campers leave food unattended or unprotected, bears realize that humans are a great source of food. When their cubs are hungry or they need to store up fat for the winter, they can become aggressive. It’s not the bear’s fault. Humans have taught the bear they are a good source of easy food.
In the case of the goat that fatally attacked the hiker last year, the goat had come to associated humans with a much needed source of salt through urine and sweat close to trails. Wild animals are simply trying to survive. They don’t have grocery stores or fast food restaurants to get food. Every day is a struggle to live. By human actions, intended or unintended, animals in the wild look to us as a source of easy food and the will do whatever it takes to get it.
People who think it’s cute to feed foxes and squirrels don’t think it’s cute when the foxes bite or have to be put down for approaching humans. Squirrels can be vicious and an attack is not a pleasant thing. So this spring, please help protect wild animals and keep them wild by observing the following.
1. Do not feed wild animals.
2. Do not leave food unattended and store food properly.
a. Bears will rip open cars to get at food, toothpaste, deodorant and more.
b. Use bear canisters and bear lockers to store food.
3. If you see an animal, give it distance. Do not get close to take a picture. Give it space. An uncomfortable animal is much more likely to attack.
4. Never get between a mother and its babies.
a. If you see cubs or other small animals, know that the mother is near and get out of there.
5. If a black bear comes into your campsite yell, wave your arms and throw rocks. Do not run. Do not leave your food.
6. Wild animals tend to come out around dawn and dusk. Hiking alone on trails can attract attacks from wolves, grizzly bears and mountain lions. Hike in pairs or make noise as you go.
7. Find out what animals are in the area you are camping/hiking in and know how to protect yourself from them.
8. Remember you are in their territory. Wild animals only have small amounts of wild space in which to live. Respect that.
9. If an animal appears aggressive or agitated, if possible, remove yourself from the situation and camp somewhere else. (Again, know the animal. Running from a grizzly bear or mountain lion will only encourage an attack.)
10. If you encounter wild animals around your home, remember they are still wild. By feeding them or leaving them scraps, animals forget how to hunt and survive when humans leave.