Wild Animal Safety for Campers and Hikers

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Regardless of where you're camping, it's always possible that you'll come in contact with a wild animal. The important thing isn't whether or not you'll see one, it's what you do when it happens, as your reactions can impact your safety.

Some common reasons people get hurt upon seeing a wild animal include:

  • Not making enough noise
  • Approaching or surprising an animal
  • Getting close to their food source
  • Startling a mother with her babies
  • Going off trail after dark

What you do when you see a bear is not necessarily what you should do when you see a mountain lion. Keep the following wild animal safety tips in mind the next time you encounter an animal in their natural habitat.

Mountain Lion

If you come across a mountain lion, protect yourself by being as big as possible. Stand next to other adults, wave your arms, and be very loud. Never run past or from the mountain lion; you need to act like a predator yourself.


If you see cubs, back away—the mother bear is not far from there, and she is more likely to attack if her babies are in trouble. Whether you see cubs or an adult bear, you want to pay attention to particular cues: if the bear stomps a paw or huffs, give it space. Wave your arms calmly over your head and always stand your ground, never turn your back or run away.

More: Bear Safety Tips for Campers and Hikers