Little Dorothy had good reason to be scared of these animals. In Utah our cities lie in close proximity to the homes of wild and dangerous animals. In the summer months as more of us venture outside of our urban communities to enjoy nature it is important to keep in mind that unexpected dangers and unintentional harm is present in our beautiful surroundings. Due to these dangers the State of Utah requires all hunters to have wilderness education in addition to a valid hunting license, providing that the applicant was born after 1965 .
Mountain lions have been known to attack humans, such as a well known cougar attack in California in 2004 when two bikers were killed. However, Wilderness Utah claims that the last documented cougar attack was in 1997. If you do see a cougar there are some ways to avoid accidents.
- Do not run. Running will make you look more like prey to them. Instead, make yourself look intimidating. Try opening your jacket or put another camper on your back to look bigger.
- Maintain eye contact. Looking at the cougar will help intimidate it. This also will keep you from ever exposing your vulnerable back to it.
- Keep you yard or camp site unattractive to the cougar. This means make sure it is free of sources of food for the cougars including deer, pets, and pet food.
- Go inside before dusk, when the cougars come out.
Its ok, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has not discovered a Utah tiger. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources does however give current information on dangerous animal populations in the state. Though Utah doesn’t need to worry about tigers, apart from an escape from the zoo, our desert home is shared with rattlesnakes. Every Year 800 people are bitten by rattle snakes nation wide. Rattlesnake bites are usually non life threatening, resulting in one to two deaths a year, but they can lead to the loss of limb. To avoid harm from snakebites the State of Utah suggests to
- Give the snakes 5 ft of space, leave snakes alone. SWPARC reminds Utah residents that it is illegal to harass or kill a rattlesnake
- Avoid rocky areas were they can hide
- At home, keep good non venomous snakes in your yard. The more snakes like gopher snakes that are present in the area the less room there is for a rattle snake to live.
- If bitten do not make a tourniquet or try to suck the venom out. This usually will make the injury worse, instead a better use of your time would be getting to the hospital as soon as possible.
Utah residents should also be on the look out for bears as well. The black bear is responsible for 52 deaths in just ten years. Bears have also been known to cause thousands of dollars in damages to property in just one encounter with civilization. To protect yourself from bear incidents:
- Don’t stink. Clean up all food while camping or picnicking.This means that you should thoroughly clean all eating surfaces and areas of food preparation as well as store food in air tight containers which are difficult for bears to reach. Any smell will attract bears. At home make sure that your trash is securely put away and undetectable to them.
- Make noise, bears will avoid things which sound bigger than them.
- Travel in groups.
- Protect your homes with fencing and dogs.
- Often water will deter a bear. Using sprinklers at night will keep them from entering your lawn.
- Don’t over react to a bear. If you come across one and it stands stay still and be calm. Though it looks menacing the bears will stand when simply smelling and trying to understand their world, not when attacking.
Although these tips and hospital care will fix your immediate physical needs, there may be other damage done to you. After you have experienced an animal attack call the experts at Christensen & Hymas at (801)506-0800.
Image from National Park Services Jake Bortscheller