Wilderness Camping Safety Tips 2/2
In our last article, we looked at some dangers that backwoods campers can face while out in the mountains. We are using the Colorado Rockies as our example since Rocky Mountain National Park offers campers plenty of opportunities to get out into nature with little chance of seeing other campers. In this week’s article, we’ll cover the dangers posed by wildlife and offer some basic advice to dealing with encounters, close and otherwise, so that you and the animals stay safe and happy. We are Barocook, makers of an amazing cooking device that allows you to have a hot meal even when you have no power or fire. Our flameless ration cooker is the perfect thing for your camping kitchen. When you are planning your next backwoods adventure, be sure to include a Barocook flameless cooker in your supplies.
According to the the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department, there are 300-500 mountain lions in the state. Also known as pumas, or cougars, these elusive animals try to avoid humans, and there are many, many times that hikers walk right by a resting lion without knowing it. These predators mainly eat deer and elk, but also dine on smaller animals such as raccoons, turkey, and skunks. If you are hiking with dogs, make sure you keep them leashed, so that they can’t find and disturb a hiding cat. The big cat will chase the dog away, and if the dog comes back to you, it will bring the mountain lion with it. They seldom attack adult humans but have been known to go for small children. For this reason, it is essential to keep your children close to you when camping. Having children walk between adults is a good way to keep them safe. To avoid encountering a mountain lion, make lots of noise so you scare them away. If one appears in front of you on the trail, do everything you can to make yourself appear large. Hold up your backpack or open your coat. Speak calmly to the animal. Do not yell or scream because they are attracted to sounds of animal distress, and this can trigger an attack. If the mountain lion becomes aggressive, fight it. It knows, somehow, that if it becomes injured, it won’t be as able to find and kill its next meal and won’t take the risk of injury.
As of 2015, there were reportedly around 19,000 black bears in Colorado. The good news in this is that these are black bears and there are no confirmed sightings of Grizzly bears in the state. For those, you’d have to go camping in Montana. In one area of the Front Range, for instance, there were ten bears per 100 square miles. Now, this number is pretty high, so the bad news is that while black bears are not as aggressive as Grizzly bears, there are a lot of them and that means that competition for food can be stiff. This means that they are more likely to approach people and campsites in search of food. To counter this, it is imperative for people to keep food stored properly when out camping. A bear keg is a device that is designed to store food safe from bears. When you are going to cook, break out your Barocook flameless cooker, with which you can cook a meal without fire or power. Be sure to put our leftovers back into the bear keg so the bear can’t smell it, or open it if it gets its paws on it. Check with the local ranger to make sure your model bear keg is the sort they have not yet figured out how to open. Carrying bear spray is a good idea if you are going deep into the mountains. Bears are most dangerous when they are hungry (waking up from hibernation), startled, or when a mother bear is with her cubs. Keep your dogs on their leashes when out hiking to avoid them encountering a bear that you might otherwise pass by without trouble. If you see a bear, read its behavior and act accordingly. If it is simply walking along, not bothering you, leave it be. If it seems to be checking you out, try to calmly back away and let it know you are not a threat. If it begins to approach you, yell and throw rocks and anything else to try to scare it away. If you happen to encounter a rare aggressive bear, do not play dead, but fight back with all your might. Because some people think that playing dead is the right thing to do if the bear attacks, we will address this issue. The only time this works is if the bear is a Grizzly bear and it’s a mama bear who is protecting her cubs.
Seeing a moose is a thrilling experience. These large animals the largest in the deer family seem like slow moving beasts, but the fact is they can run up to 35 miles an hour and are extremely powerful. Far from the cartoonish characters they are often made out to be, moose are more dangerous than bears. They can weigh up to 1,500 pounds and are known to attack people more often than bears do, especially if they are startled, there is a calf near by, or if it is rutting season. Be sure to make plenty of noise so a moose can hear you coming.
If you should encounter a moose, the top safety rule is to show them you are not a threat. Do this by putting your hands up in a defensive position. Back away with your palms facing the moose, speak softly, and move behind something—something big. Find a big tree or rock to get behind. If the moose attacks you, play dead. Roll up into a ball and protect your head and neck.
When you’ve made it safely to a great place to camp for the night or a few days, settle in and have a meal. Use your Barocook flameless ration cooker to make yourself a hot meal. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner all taste better when they are warm meals that nourish and warm you up. Be sure to pack your thermal cooking pot the next time you head out into the wilderness!