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Predatory animals in the USA: how to survive upon meeting

Sharks and alligators in the water; bears, coyotes, cougars - in the forest; snakes, scorpions and spiders are in the grass. The wildlife in America outside the noisy metropolitan areas is so rich that you don’t know who you will encounter next time and how it will all end. ForumDaily compiled instructions for surviving when meeting wild animals and talked to those for whom such a meeting ended with only a slight fright.

Photo: Shutterstock


For Alina Mazina, a resident of Pennsylvania, meeting a bear is a common thing. Her dacha is located in a trailer town in Pennsylvania's Pocono Preserve (it's 3-4 hours drive from New York), where many black bears live. Trailers are scattered around the reserve, and tourists are completely immersed in nature. Alina's family bought the dacha last year. Alina remembers the first meeting with the clubfoot as if it were yesterday - during the walk the bear was a few steps away from her. The instinct of self-preservation suggested how to be saved.

“I knew I couldn't run, so I walked as quickly as I could to our open veranda near the house. I didn’t make any sudden movements, ”recalls Alina. The clubfoot went his own way and did not follow the girl.

After this incident, Alina discovered that a special siren had been left in the house from her previous owners, scaring bears. Although she had often seen predators not far from her home, she had never used a siren.

Alina advises: the most important thing is not to attract the attention of the beast, if you see each other during the walk. “For several decades, bears have not attacked people in this reserve, and the main task of a walker is not to provoke a she-bear with cubs,” she explained.

Alina really likes the trailer in this reserve, and in no case does she think of selling it because of the unexpected neighborhood. The girl realized that she could well coexist with clubfoot, deer, marmots and other animals that roam freely around the reserve and even come to her site. Moreover, a bear, as a rule, is not interested in a person.

There are three types of dangerous bears in the USA: black, brown and polar. Most of all, a person should be afraid of brown grizzlies. They are found mainly in the state of Alaska and in western Canada, but there are also small populations in the continental United States - in Montana, in the Yellowstone region and in western Washington. About 4000 black bears inhabit the forests of New Jersey. In 2015, in Yellowstone Park in Wyoming, where there were about 800 bears the year before, one of them killed a park worker. Since 1990, 67 people have died after encountering these predators.

How to reduce the risk of meeting a bear:

  • During the walk, make noise or speak loudly. The bear has a good ear and he will definitely try to avoid contact with you.
  • Try to navigate the open area so that you have an overview of the 300-500 meters ahead.
  • Remove food and waste in tied cellophane bags or special containers and leave them no less than 60 meters from your tourist parking lot. Even the clothes in which you cooked, for the night, it is better to take them off and put them in a bag that will be far away from you.
  • Stay away from carrion and animal remains. If the bear notices you near its "prey" - a collision is inevitable.
  • Do not take gasoline and chemicals with you. Bears are very fond of the smell of gasoline: there were cases when dented or crumpled barrels of fuel were found in winter quarters, which the beast clearly liked.
  • Always look around. The bear can follow you without impersonating.
  • Children should always be kept close.

What to do if you meet a bear:

  • When encountering a predator, resist the urge to run away. Bears reach speeds of up to 40 km/h. Climbing a tree is also not worth it, because these predators climb trees well. The safest option is to calmly step back without sudden movements.
  • Don't look the clubfoot in the eyes. This may be perceived as a manifestation of aggression. It is better to turn away and bow your head in a pose of submission.
  • Use pepper spray against bears. It is much more efficient than a gun, say experienced travelers and hunters.

Cougars and lynx

Stepan Perfilev lives in the wild part of North Texas. The backyard of his house has access to the forest. And from there often wander coyotes. And several times even lynxes and puma approached the house - fortunately, the house is fenced.

“Puma and lynxes could jump over this fence, but, thank God, this did not happen. Although they did frighten my wife and children with their presence. When I saw these predators near our house, I called Animal Control. Their employees set up traps to catch predators, but nothing came of it,” the man said.

No special action to protect their possessions from the invasion of predators Stepan does not take, except that does not let the children walk to the back yard.

The man advises to carefully study the area in which you live, to know what animals you may encounter and what actions you need to take in case of an unexpected meeting.

As statistics show, cougars rarely attack people - for more than 100 years in North America, only about 20 cases have been recorded. Most of the attacks were made by young cougars, who were probably forced to go hunting on their own. In other cases, they prefer to bypass a person.

What to do when meeting a puma or lynx:

  • In an area where feral cats are found, go for walks in groups and make more noise. Take a stick with you - it can scare away the cougar.
  • When meeting with a predator, do everything to appear larger. Unbutton your jacket, spread your arm, get together with other people.
  • If the cougar behaves aggressively, throw stones at it or whatever comes handy. Do not squat or turn your back to her.
  • When attacked by a cougar, actively resist. Beat her, push and push her away. There are cases when people managed to escape from the cougar by resisting it even with their bare hands.

Coyotes, which are dangerous predators, have populated almost all of North America, gradually adapting to the fact that man has always wanted to exterminate them. Coyotes can be found both in deserts and on the outskirts of megacities - like Los Angeles.

What to do when meeting a coyote:

  • Keep eye contact with the coyote, do not lower the eyes for a second and slowly move back.
  • Assume an imposing air to make the coyote appear larger than you are.
  • Rumble and throw coyote sticks and any other items to scare him.
  • If you meet coyote puppies on your way, try to get out of there as soon as possible. Otherwise, the coyote may attack, regarding you as a threat to their babies.

If you have repeatedly seen a wild animal near your house, call the service Animal control: 1-888-488-7720.

Photo: Shutterstock

Scorpions and snakes

A resident of Texas Ruslan Brovarsky met a poisonous scorpion while repairing his car on the street. A nut fell out of his hands and rolled away. When Ruslan bent over her, he met “face to face” with a dark pink scorpion. He stung Ruslan right in the finger and jumped away. The man killed the animal, but the finger was swollen and lost sensitivity. Ruslan jumped into the car and drove home. Within 40 minutes, it is admitted, the arm was numb to the elbow.

“At home, I rummaged through the first aid kit and found nothing. I decided to fight the poison with another poison and drank a glass of rum. Then I felt bad, and what happened next - I don’t remember. I didn’t go to the hospital because I don’t trust doctors,” Ruslan admitted.

After a few days, the discomfort disappeared, the finger began to bend, and everything returned to normal. Scorpions and now a man often meets on his site in Austin and mercilessly crushes them with a shovel.

What to do if bitten by a snake or stung by a scorpion:

  • If you are stung by a scorpion or bitten by a poisonous snake, you should not take alcohol, put a tourniquet on the pinned surface, incise the injured place or burn the wound.
  • The best course of action in this case is to dial 911 and report your problem. The service operator will tell you if a rescue team will be sent for you or if you need to get to the hospital on your own. Until this time, you can’t hesitate - suck out the poison, wipe the wound with alcohol and apply an antiseptic bandage on top.
  • If you need to go to the hospital, put another person behind the wheel, since the action of the poison can deprive you of consciousness.


Tonya Tarasenko saw reef sharks up close for the first time while snorkeling in the city of Key West, which is located in the southernmost point of Florida. The captain of the boat in which she sailed to the dive site reassured her that the reef sharks were harmless and she could swim safely. However, the girl became uneasy, and she returned to the boat. Other tourists continued to snorkel, surrounded by sharks.

“The water in the lagoon where we swam was very clear and I saw meter long sharks that were at a depth of 10-12 meters. It was unpleasant for me to swim there, and I went on board with the child. In the same lagoon on the same day we met an alligator. We were told that he was wounded and swam here by accident, but we went to swim on another beach, ”Antonina shared her story.

Statistics The Natural History Museum testifies: over the past 180 years, the most cases of unprovoked shark attacks on people have been recorded in Florida - 748 (the most cases were in Volusi County, Brevard and Palm Beach). Hawaii follows with 143 attacks (most of the attacks were recorded on the islands of Maui and Oahu), and California closes the top three with 117 cases, most of which were in San Diego and Humboldt.

Sharks usually attack alone and do not swim ashore, but in February 2016 in Florida, entire flocks of predators swam right off the coast in Palm Beach County. Before that, 2015 was a record year for the number of shark attacks in the world: the largest number of attacks happened in the United States - 59.

George Burgess, director of the International ISAF organization in Florida, considered one of the best shark researchers in the world, believes that tattoos and bright nail polish can attract predators. In addition, in the aquatic environment where people find themselves, there are places with a large accumulation of fish, which also attracts aquatic predators.

How to reduce the risk of encountering a shark:

  • Swim in the ocean in a group.
  • Do not swim too early and at night.
  • Do not enter the water with bleeding wounds, and women should refrain from bathing during menstruation.
  • Avoid swimming near fishermen - fish attract sharks.
  • Get out of the water immediately if you see a flock of seagulls above the water or a school of fish - a shark may be nearby.
  • Try to avoid brightly colored swimsuits and shiny jewelry that reminds sharks of fish scales.

What to do if you meet a shark:

  • Do not panic. Keep a shark in your line of sight, even if you are swimming away from it. The predator can attack and retreat several times. You must be ready to repel the attack.
  • If a shark is nearby, it is better not to swim away, but to prepare for protection. Remember: the shark swims faster than you.
  • If you are underwater, lean against reefs, piles, or rocks so that you have to fight the shark in front of you. In open waters, if you're not alone, back-to-back with another swimmer so you can defend from any direction.
  • If the battle cannot be avoided, try to scare the predator. Aim for its head, especially the gills, eyes, and tip of its nose - these are the shark's weakest points. Use any items that you have to hit (camera, mask, etc.).


In June, 2016, the whole world was shocked baby story, who was dragged right from under the noses of his parents by an alligator at a hotel at Disneyland in Florida.

There are about 1,5 million alligators in Florida. It is not for nothing that the famous Everglades Park is located in this state, where excursions are held, during which you can watch cold-blooded predators. They can be found in Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi and Texas.

Alligators spend most of their lives in water (rivers, lakes and swamps) and rarely attack people. According to the organization Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, from 1948 to April 2016, 348 cases of large crocodiles attacking people were recorded. Of these, 23 cases ended in death.

How to reduce the risk of meeting an alligator:

  • Stay away from water. Especially if signs are installed near the water source prohibiting swimming or warning that alligators are found in the area.
  • If you are swimming in a boat in an unfamiliar body of water, do not dip your hands or feet into the water.
  • Avoid canoeing on rivers and lakes. Alligators most often attack these watercraft.
  • Crocodiles and alligators are able to memorize tourist routes and parking. If you go camping and will do parking in a place where there may be alligators, make a camp at a great distance from the water.
  • Alligator's jaws are very powerful at closing, but weak at opening. If you squeeze his mouth with two hands, then he will most likely not be able to open it.

What to do if you meet an alligator:

  • If you do encounter an alligator, try to run away from it in the direction away from the water. Although these predators reach speeds of up to 17 km / h, the alligator will not be able to catch up with you, because he quickly gets tired when running and feels vulnerable out of the water.
  • If the predator was able to grab you, get ready for it to drag you into the water and do a deadly torsion in order to tear off the limb. When torsion, be prepared to roll in the same direction.
  • Do not pull the time and attack the predator, if he already grabbed you. Aim in the eyes, nostrils and ears. This may cause the alligator to let you go. Use everything that comes to hand.
  • Crocodiles have the lapel of the skin behind the tongue, which closes his throat when immersed in water. Thus, the water does not fall into the throat and does not allow the predator to choke if the mouth is open. If your hand is in the mouth of an alligator, try to feel for the palatal valve and open it. Water will begin to flow into his throat, and it is likely that the alligator will let you go.


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