Here's how to stay safe and alive if you run into a pack of wolves in the backcountry.
While sightings much less close encounters with wild wolves are not common, hikers and campers could come across gray wolves in Montana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Idaho, and some national parks throughout North America including Yellowstone. Backcountry hunters also run some risk when venturing into wolf territories like Alaska or other far north parts of Canada. If you go to a place that is isolated enough, that natural fear of humans may not be there if they have never encounter a person before.
Whenever you're traveling through known wolf country, be sure stay alert, travel in groups, and practice caution if you spot one of these carnivores. Don't try to feed wolves, approach wolves, or pick up wolf pups especially near den sites. Remember they are wild animals and can be incredibly dangerous if provoked or threatened.
If you happen upon one of these large predators, here's how to survive a wolf encounter:
- Keep domestic dogs on their leashes and do not let your pets get between you and the wolf or pack of wolves.
- Keep in mind wolf attacks are often triggered by depleted food supply, and humans could be viewed as a food source.
- Even if you're scared, try your best to stay calm and don't run away. Wolves could begin to chase in this situation.
- Stand up tall and make yourself look as big and intimidating as possible. Don't bend over or cower.
- Slowly back up while maintaining eye contact - particularly with the alpha wolf when you're dealing with a whole wolf pack. Never turn your back on these canids.
- If the wolves appear aggressive and do not back down, begin throwing rocks, sticks, and any other objects you can grab in the direction of the wolves. If the alpha backs down, the rest of the pack should too.
- If this doesn't work and the wolves attack, fight for your life. Cover your head and neck as best you can until they relent.
We know some people will say the best solution is to shoot the wolves. However, that or other forms of self-defense like bear spray may not always be an option. Keep these tips in mind and they may save your life one day.
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