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When things get wild out there

Black Bear

Black Bear

Do: Wave arms slowly, speak calmly and walk away; Drop a non-food item to distract it; If charged, stand your ground, use bear spray.

Don’t: Shout or make sudden movements; Run or climb a tree (it can do both faster); Play dead (it will investigate—with claws).

Cougar

Cougar

Do: Try to look big (stand tall, open jacket, wave arms); Make eye contact, and slowly back away; If attacked, fight back hard as possible, protecting your head and neck.
Don’t: Run or turn your back; Crouch, hide or play dead; Cause it to feel trapped.

Coyote

Coyote

Do: Assess its behaviour and check for others; Make yourself appear larger, make noise and slowly back away; If attacked, stand and fight back—hard.

Don’t: Turn your back or run away; Unleash your dog; Let your group spread out—a straggler may get attacked.

Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear

Do: Stay calm and slowly back away; Climb at least four metres up a tree; If attacked, lie face down, spread legs and clasp hands over back of neck.

Don’t: Turn and run (that can trigger a chase); Shout or act aggressive if it’s close by; Threaten or agitate it.

Rutting Moose

Rutting Moose

Do: Watch for signs of a charge (lip licking, ears back); Run and take cover behind anything large; Curl up in a ball and protect your head.

Don’t: Approach to within 25 metres; Try to overtake it on a trail; Get anywhere near the hooves.

Rattlesnake

Rattlesnake

Do: If you hear a rattle, head in the opposite direction; If bitten, immobilize the affected limb and keep it below heart level; Flush bite with soapy water, then get to a hospital.

Don’t: Pick up, move or harass it; Stick hands or feet into dark crevices; Apply a tourniquet, ice or suction to a bite.

Wolf

Wolf

Do: Maintain eye contact and slowly back away; If it advances, lunge toward it, yelling and clapping; Throw rocks and sticks at it. If it attacks, stand and fight.

Don’t: Approach dens or fresh kills; Turn your back or run away; Try to break up a fight between a wolf and a dog.

Wild ones

Wild ones

For backcountry run-ins with aggressive animals, knowledge is the best defence—especially if you’re unarmed. Here are some dos and don’ts for handling nature’s nasty side.

Please note: This gallery is not meant to provide complete, definitive advice for handling wild animal encounters. To learn more, contact your local wildlife office.

Scott Gardner

Scott Gardner

Outdoor Canada associate editor and fly-fishing columnist Scott Gardner is happiest when he's on the water fishing (especially from his kayak) or just surrounded by trees, preferably out of cell phone range. Since joining Outdoor Canada in 2010, Scott has won nine National Communication Awards from the Outdoor Writers of Canada for his adventure travel and fly fishing articles, and been nominated for five National Magazine Awards.

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