If you’re like our family, going on an annual camping and hiking trip is something to which everyone looks forward. However, there are precautions that even experienced campers should take to avoid encounters with wild animals. That cute cuddly little fella in the bush could well be carrying rabies or be looking at you as a main course. You should never assume that wild animals will behave like anything other than WILD animals. The forest is nothing like Bambi’s world.
To begin whether on the trail or in your camp, never feed wild animals. Don’t sneak up on them either. Bears in particular will attack more readily when startled. If you see a bear with food or cubs, go slowly and purposefully in a different direction and leave them alone. Giving yourself distance, when possible, also goes for deer, snakes, etc.
When in your camp, put any edibles up in a tree off the ground and try to pack mostly dry goods. This removes one temptation from raccoons and bears or any other scavengers. Set up your camp on a trail that’s well known and let someone know where you can be located in case of emergency (such as a forest ranger). Make a sound, well banked fire and by all means make noise. Wild animals usually avoid human sounds – it’s good for them and good for you. Don’t camp to close to water falls or loud streams that could mask your sounds.
When hiking or just looking around keep your eyes open. Having a pair of binoculars is a great way to see what lies ahead and around you. Walking in groups at an easily maintained pace is also much safer than going it alone. Large cats and bears will watch for stragglers, so don’t let people fall behind. If you must walk alone remember to carry a walkie-talkie and let another member of your party know your general direction.
In terms of snakes, watch when you move logs or brush as that’s when most snakes get startled. Wear heavy boots and gloves when moving these items, and if you see snake signs step away and consider an alternative. That bit of log need not be at your fire tonight!
Finally in areas where crocodiles are a consideration, stay away from shorelines – especially with pets and children. Crocks won’t usually wander too far from the water unless you put temptation in front of them.