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Mountain Connection

Surviving wildlife encounters while hiking with your pet

06/04/2015 14:15, Published by Jacqueline, Categories: Health+Wellness

Winston and Hattie, the Dogma dogs, pictured above

by Craig Gulliford

Snow is melting, the green grass is appearing and soon it will be time to hit the trails. Communing with nature can lead to encounters with wildlife and, while thrilling, it can also be dangerous. Deterring an attack or surviving one requires different behavior depending on the animal you encounter. Before you head out, make yourself familiar with the wildlife that lives in our area and follow these tips.

General Tips

• Avoid surprising animals by making noise and staying aware–especially on sections of trail with limited sight lines.

• Putting bear bells on your dog’s collar will alert wildlife to your presence and give the animals time to avoid you.

• Don’t wear headphones. Instead, tune into your surroundings so you can hear approaching animals.

• Don’t jog on the trails known for animal encounters–it stimulates a predator’s instinct to chase and attack.

• Be sure someone knows where you’re going and when you plan to be back.

• Carry a first aid kit and a cell phone.

• In places where off-leash hiking is allowed, keep pets close to you and within sight at all times. If they run ahead, they may bring the predator right back to you.

• Keep in mind that bears tend to be more active at dawn and dusk, so plan your hikes accordingly.

• Keep an eye out for tracks, fresh scat, digs. Signs that animals are active in the area.

• Carry bear spray and be sure that you have practiced using it before an attack.

If You See a Mountain Lion

• Stop, don’t run, and stay calm.

• Talk loudly and firmly to the lion in a low voice.

• Face the lion, but avoid direct eye contact as this may be interpreted as a challenge.

• Back away slowly if you can do so safely.

• Make yourself look large–raise your arms or hold a jacket or backpack above your head.

• Pick up you dog (if it’s small enough) so it does not run.

• If the lion behaves aggressively, throw stones, branches or your belongings at him.

If You Are Attacked by a Mountain Lion

• Don’t run–fight back.

• Use what’s available to you–your backpack, jacket, sticks, tools, keys, knife or even your bare hands.

• Protect your head and neck.

If You Meet a Coyote

• Remember, where there’s one coyote, there’s usually a pack. Keep an eye on your surroundings.

• Calmly, but slowly back away and maintain eye contact. Don’t turn your back. Don’t run.

• Raise your arms or hold a jacket or backpack over your head to make yourself look bigger.

If You Are Attacked by a Coyote

• If the coyote shows signs of an impending attack, act aggressively–yell loudly and throw rocks, sticks or your belongings at it.

• Throw or kick dirt, gravel, sand, anything you can in its eyes.

If You Encounter a Black Bear

• If you see a bear but the bear doesn’t see you, detour quickly and quietly, but do not run.

• Give the bear plenty of room, allowing it to continue its activities undisturbed. If it changes its behavior, you’re too close so back away.

• If the bear sees you, remain calm and avoid sudden movements.

• You want it to know you’re human so talk in a normal voice and move your arms.

• A standing bear is not always a sign of aggression. Many times, bears will stand to get a better view.

• Throw something onto the ground (like your camera) if the bear pursues you, as it may be distracted by this and allow you to escape.

• Never feed or throw food to a bear.

If a Black Bear Charges You

• Remember that bears charge as a bluff, running toward you then veering off or stop abruptly. Stand your ground until the bear stops, then slowly back away.

• Never run from a bear! They will give chase, and bears can run faster than 30 mph.

• Don’t run toward or climb a tree. Black bears and some grizzlies can climb trees, and many bear will be provoked to chase you if they see you climbing.

If a Black Bear Attacks

• Be loud, waive your arms and stand your ground.

• Fight back! Be aggressive and use any object you have.

• Play dead only if you are sure the bear attacking is a mother who is protecting her cubs.

• Use bear spray if you have it. Spray when the bear is within 40 feet so it runs into the fog. Aim for the face.  

If You Come Across a Moose 

• Do not approach.

• Give them plenty of space.

• Moose often will not move out of the trail so you may need to turn around or go off trail to get around them.

• Keep your dog close to avoid having her irritate the moose and to prevent the moose from kicking her.

Craig Gulliford owns and operates Dogma Pet Supply & Dog Wash located at 29017 Hotel Way, Evergreen, CO 80439. Call 303-526-PAWS (7297) or visit

wildlife dangers to pets

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