It's extremely rare to spot a wild wolf in the wild, and even rarer to actually encounter one, but it's a possibility every hiker and camper has to take into consideration when venturing into wolf territories throughout the North America. Backcountry travelers face the greatest risk in Alaska and Canada, as well as many of the more rugged national parks such as Yellowstone, but even states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Montana, and Idaho present the possibility of an encounter. Depending on how isolated the territory is, you could find yourself running into a wolf that's never seen a person before, and thus lives without fear of humans.
When traveling through known wolf country, you can use caution by simply staying alert, traveling in groups, and practicing caution if you spot one of these carnivores. Under no circumstances should you ever try to feed or approach wolves, especially near den sites. Remember these are wild animals that 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.
READ MORE: WHAT TO DO IF YOU ENCOUNTER A BLACK BEAR
Enjoy the outdoors?
Don't miss a story! Sign up for daily stories delivered to your inbox.