How to prevent animal attacks
(Photo: James Gritz/Getty Images)
MORE FROM MEN'S JOURNAL
"I'm standing there in what are now Carhartt Daisy Dukes, and I had to get right back on the horse," he recalls. "Now I look back and realize I had done everything wrong. This was my dream job and I nearly got killed." Thankfully, Anderson is still alive and well and able to tell us what to do when you bump into a mountain lion, why playing dead can get you killed, and why you should never try to win a shootout with a bear.
Do your research.
It should go without saying that you shouldn't just wander off into the hinterlands without a basic amount of prep work. Yet we've all gawked at YouTube videos of people doing it anyway. Anderson suggests taking a bit of time to get a feel for the terrain via maps (which you should also carry), and knowing what potentially threatening animals are native to the area and possible hot spots you should avoid.
Anderson is quick to point out, though, that being fearful is bad for everyone involved. "Because we've sensationalized these animals, most people walk out into their world with fear, and that is your worst enemy," he says. "You need to understand where you're going, what the dangers are, and then take the precautions to avoid them. Blindly walking into these animals' world without having any understanding of them is disrespectful – and you're kind of asking for trouble."
Today, preparation is easier than ever, with every national park and likely every state park having a website listing all the info you'd need before heading in.
(Photo: Mark Newman/Getty Images)
Keep your distance.
If you spot a wild animal, the desire to approach and interact with it is perfectly understandable. It's also completely stupid and irresponsible. "Never approach any animal in the wild," Anderson says. "As a human moving through their world, they look at you as a threat no matter your intentions, and so you can trigger their fight-or-flight response."
The problem is that no matter how tame that deer at Yosemite or bison at Yellowstone may seem, they're still wild at heart and will react to cues you give off that you may not even realize. Instead, carry a pair of binoculars to observe them in their natural environment and give them some distance: 25 meters for big game and at least 100 meters (or ideally much more) for predators like bears and wolves. "Every year, you read stories about someone thinking bears are like teddy bears, or they put their kid on the back of a bison to get a picture taken," Anderson says. "And every year, someone gets injured or killed."