Backcountry Wildlife Encounter Tips

There were three stories recently that caught my attention because they were so unusual-about wildlife sightings. No big deal you say! At this time of year to see a mountain lion or a bear running loose anywhere is unusual because they are supposed to be hibernating.

The first one was in Parker, Colorado, a town 20 miles from the foothills of the Rockies where residents spotted mountain lions roaming in their neighborhoods.

The second one was a bear sighting in Pasadena, California. And yet a third was another mountain lion sighting in the backyard neighborhoods where a dog is missing.

Why are these unusual?

Bears especially hibernate from late October to mid-March. They are particularly aggressive in periods before and after their hibernation because they are looking for food. The same is true of mountain lions.

But because of drought conditions out in California, to some extent in Colorado and throughout the Rocky Mountain region, wildlife have been forced to lower elevations for food.

Here are some wildlife encounter tips for avoiding mountain lion and bear encounters.

  1. When in backcountry, go in groups and make plenty of noise when you walk or hike. Make sure your children are close to you and within your sight at all times. Carry a walking stick and bear spray to ward off a mountain lion or bear.
  2. Do not approach a bear or mountain lion. Mountain lions and bears are both naturally fearful of humans but will attack if they feel threatened.
  3. Running away from them is a bad idea. They can out run you first of all, but more importantly, it will stimulate their instinct to chase and attack. Mountain lions and bears are very fleet of foot.
  4. Do everything you can to make yourself look bigger than you are. Raise your arms; if you’re wearing a jacket, open it up; if you have children, pick them up so they won’t panic and run.
  5. If you speak loudly and firmly, it may convince the mountain lion you are not prey but instead a danger to them and they may back away. Try throwing stones, branches or whatever you can get your hands on without turning your back.
  6. If a mountain lion attacks, fight back with everything you can covering your face. They don’t expect resistance. If a bear attacks you, curl up into a ball covering your head and your face.

We have always recommended that when people go into the backcountry, no matter what time of year, they carry a bear spray with them. It is a proven deterrent to bear and mountain lion attacks. In particular we recommend Frontiersman Bear Spray because; it has a range of 35 feet-further than most sprays, is heat sealed to prevent leakage and is nearly 50% stronger than personal defensive sprays. It has a dual propellant system which empties the canister faster than any other brand, which can be a lifesaver.

This Mace Bear Spray empties in 5.4 seconds and has a range of 35 feet also.