Stay safe from wild animal encounters this summer


Kaden Smart, Section Editor

With Summer just around the corner, many teenagers are excited to get out and do some hiking with friends, but a recent bear attack involving a Utah teen in Montana may scare some people away from enjoying the outdoors.


“I love hiking. It’s a great way to get into nature, exercise, and relax,” says Tyler Bradford, a junior at RHS. While hiking is one of the most popular activities in Utah, it has its risks as well.


Wildlife officials in Montana say that a Utah teen survived a bear attack in Montana with minor injuries. They state that the bear came up from behind the teen and pinned him on the ground. Luckily the teen had bear spray and was able to spray the bear with it. Because the teen is a minor, no name or further information has been given out.


While bear attacks are somewhat rare, they are still incredibly dangerous creatures. The teens choice to bring bear spray may have saved his life.


So what can you do this summer to stay safe and vigilant while hiking or camping in the woods this summer?


According to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, hiking in groups may be the best way to thwart a bear attack. Other things you can do include making lots of noise to scare them away and keeping food and coolers up in trees, away from camp where bears won’t be able to reach them as easily. They also recommend packing bear spray if these fail to deter bears.


If you see a bear, The Utah DNR says to stand your ground and look big. They also say if the bear attacks, don’t run. Fight back using anything at your disposal.


Another more common encounter might be with a rattlesnake. The DNR says that rattlesnakes will avoid you at all costs, and that playing with one or harassing one is a bad move. They say that you should give the snake at least 5 feet of space, and to have no sudden movements, so back up slowly.


Rattlesnakes are protected under Utah law, so killing one is illegal. “If you leave the snake alone, it will leave you alone,” says Krissy Wilson, the native aquatic species coordinator at the Division of Wildlife Resources.


The last animal we will address is the cougar. One of the rarest sighted animals is still a threat. The DNR says they are solitary animals, so encountering one is rare, but if you do encounter one, do not run or it will chase you. Instead, you should make eye contact. This will threaten the cougar, and then you should look as big as you can. Open up or flap your jacket, and, again, if attacked, fight back! They warn that cougars go for the neck, so you should protect your neck before anything else.


While most wild animal encounters are rare, it is still important to remember how to minimize those chances, so you can stay safe this summer. More information is available on these animal encounters at the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources website.