Though hiking is intended to be a relaxing and exhilarating activity, it can pose a variety of threats and risks to participants of all experience levels. Wildlife is perhaps the most revered of these threats; with many predatory and otherwise dangerous species usually sitting in the back of hikers’ minds as they set out on their trail of choice. While it may be exciting to encounter these creatures in their natural habitat, it is important to remember that they feel inclined to protect themselves or their territory if surprised or provoked.
Here are two more potentially dangerous animals to remain aware of.
In many cases, North America’s big cats — which go by a variety of names ranging from “mountain lion” to “puma –” are typically reclusive, almost the subject of myth depending on where you live. That said, when encountered, these animals can become dangerous under certain circumstances; their threatening claws and fangs are all the more hazardous when paired with their ability to climb up to 40 feet. The good news is that most big cats are shy and generally afraid of humans, but to further decrease your chances of facing one, exercise the following precautions:
- Hike in a group, if possible. Big cats are less likely to approach multiple humans.
- Avoid areas with freshly killed animals, as big cats tend to stash their kills for later and may become territorial if these carcasses belong to them.
- Exercise additional caution if hiking with small children or pets, as they may be interpreted as easy prey by nearby cats.
It is not likely that you will ever seen a moose during a hike, but in the rare case that you do, the fascination of the moment alone can pose a major threat to your wellbeing. Like bears and wolves, moose are a majestic sight to behold — especially in their natural habitat, but with the latter detail in mind, you must tread carefully when in their presence. Moose are known for their sporadic aggression when challenged, and — when paired with their massive size, formidable antlers, and general lack of fear for human activity — this creates a clear danger if inappropriately handled. Just remember one important detail: despite their apparent affability, moose are not approachable creatures; give them as much space as possible and observe them from afar.