Wild Animal Encounters

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One reason people love the great outdoors is the opportunity to spot amazing wildlife. But what do you do when your encounter with Mother Nature is a little too exciting?

Most animals mean no harm to humans and will flee before you ever see them. To minimize the chance of danger, don't feed wildlife, stay in designated areas only, keep your distance if you do see animals, and always use the buddy system.

On rare occasions, it's too late to avoid an up-close run-in with a dangerous animal. Whether you should run, play dead, or hold your ground depends on what kind of animal is staring your down. If you spot a mountain lion, for example, make eye contact, stand up straight, and raise your arms, to present a formidable appearance. Retreat slowly, and never turn your back on the animal.

For encounters with bears, you never want to make eye contact. And above all, don't run--your quick movement may prompt the bear to chase. Discharge your bear spray if one comes within 15 feet. On the other hand, if a moose charges you, run like the wind. It probably won't chase.

Snakes blend in well with the environment, so it's sometimes hard to spot them. To prevent bites, wear thick boots that are at least ankle-high. Tapping the ground with a walking stick helps scare off snakes. And if you're going to an area where poisonous snakes live, by all means bring a snakebite kit.

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