A 13-year-old boy recently died of an apparent animal attack. The Kentucky teen’s body, which was found on a mountainside in Knott County, had “injuries consistent with an animal attack” according to the autopsy report.
According to a 2018 study published in Wilderness & Environmental Medicine and as reported by Science Daily, a total of 1,610 people died from encounters with animals from 1999 to 2007. Fifty-seven percent of this number was caused by nonvenomous animals. The study also mentioned that insects, dogs and farm animals were the guilty party in most of these deaths. This shows that we should be careful in the presence of both wild and domesticated animals. It also shines the spotlight on the need to be more aware of the ways you can survive animal attacks.
Throughout history, there have been some notable deaths from animal attacks. In 1920, King Alexander of Greece succumbed to a monkey bite. The king was trying to separate his dog and a monkey when he was bitten by another monkey. He died of sepsis a few weeks later.
Have you ever heard of the “a dingo ate/took my baby” memes? It actually happened and is not funny by all accounts. In 1980, 2-month-old Azaria Chamberlain was taken by a dingo from their tent while she and her parents were sleeping. Back then, her parents were accused of murdering her and Linda, the mother, spent three years in jail. They were later cleared of any wrongdoing after Azaria’s matinee jacket was found near a dingo lair supporting their claim.
Perhaps the most popular animal attack casualty is zoologist and TV personality Steve Irwin. The Australian wildlife expert known as “The Crocodile Hunter” was killed in 2006 after a short-tail stingray pierced him in the chest.
It doesn’t matter who you are or what your standing in society is. You’re in deep doo-doo if you don’t know what to do to survive animal attacks.
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Survive Bear Attacks
It’s easy to think that bears are nice and friendly beings. They are usually portrayed on screen as cuddly best friends like Winnie the Pooh, Paddington Bear, Baloo, and Yogi Bear. You also have Corduroy, the Berenstain Bears, and Lars the Little Polar Bear. Plus, who can ever forget of the teddy bear, the stuffed toy named after President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt.
In real life, bears are not that aggressive but can be deadly when provoked or surprised. Mother bears will also turn violent if they think their cubs are in danger.
In 2017, 16-year-old Patrick Cooper was running in the Bird Ridge trail race in Alaska when he texted his family that a bear was following him. His mauled body was found later after volunteers and fellow runner went back up the hill to look for him.
Stephan Miller was killed in 2008 by Rocky, a trained bear that appeared in movies such as Semi-Pro. Miller and Rocky were fake-wrestling for a shoot at the time of his death. He was caught unprepared as Rocky lunged at him resulting on fatal injuries.
In 1987, 11-year-old Juan Perez sneaked into the Prospect Zoo in Brooklyn with two other youngsters. The three went swimming in the moat where polar bears were kept. Perez was caught and killed by two polar bears while the other two escaped.
In most bear attacks, the animals were surprised by the presence of humans. There are also cases in which the bears were predatory, meaning they were out on a hunt.
Know Your Bears
The key to surviving bear attacks is to be prepared. Part of the preparation is knowledge. Do some research if you are residing, hiking or hunting in an area where bears have been sighted.
Get to know the bears. We don’t mean going near one and introducing yourself. That’s a big no-no. It’s best not to fist-bump a bear.
Despite their names, it’s hard to tell which is which when it comes to fur color. Some black bears are brown while brown bears can have dark fur.
Brown or grizzly bears have a distinct hump on its shoulder. They have a dished face profile, short and rounded ears, and long claws. Black bears have flat shoulders. Their face profile is straight while the ears and claws are shorter. Polar bears are easily distinguishable because of their white fur.
Learn about bear behavior. Black bears are generally the peace lovers in the bear community. They’re quite curious and will venture into areas occupied by humans. Brown bears and polar bears are more likely to attacks humans. Still, you need to be careful when you encounter a black bear.
Bears are easily scared and are more likely to skedaddle at the sight of humans. Avoid going out alone. Go with a group and stay together at all times. This will help keep bears at bay.
Pack the Bear Essentials
Find out if there are known bear habitats where you’re planning to go. If there are, it’s a good idea to prepare your bear attack survival gear.
Bear-Proof Food Container
Pack food in a bear-proof container. This will prevent the bears from being attracted to the smell of the food. The durable BearVault BV450 Bear Resistant Food Canister can store up to four days’ worth of food . More importantly, it is approved by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC), the Sierra Interagency Black Bear Group (SIBBG), and a host of national parks and forests.
Bears have a good sense of smell. They will be attracted to toothpastes, soaps, deodorants and other things with odor. Keep such items in a bear bag like the Ursack Major Bear Resistant Food Sack.
Also, change your clothes especially if you spilled food on them. Keep the dirty ones in bear-proof bags, as well. Bears can smell your filthiness.
When you see one, stand your ground and don’t make any hasty or aggressive movement. Running away will make the bear think you’re a prey. Also, these mammals can run up to 30 miles per hour and will likely catch up to you in no time.
Slowly get your bear repellent and take the safety off. Bear sprays such as the Sabre Frontiersman Bear Spray are more powerful than normal pepper sprays. It should be kept somewhere that’s easy to reach like on your belt or on the strap of your backpack. A bear spray is useless if you can’t get to it on time. Use it only when the bear comes after you.
If the bear sticks around and starts whacking the ground and making angry sounds, it means the bear is not pleased and may attack. It also means it may be protecting its cubs, its meal, or you’re a tad too close.
Calmly back away and speak in a very soft voice with the bear spray aimed in its direction. If it lunges at you and is about 20 to 30 feet from you, that’s when you give the bear spray a go. Aim above his head to get some on his eyes, nose and throat.
If you’re in a group, make sure everyone carries his or her own bear spray. Everyone should also know what to do if you encounter a bear.
In case you can’t get to your bear deterrent in time or the bear is too close for the spray to do its job, you may be forced to play dead instead. Drop into a fetal position and cover the back of your head and neck with your hands. The bear will no longer be aggressive if they think you’re dead. Wait it out until the bear leaves then find your way back to safety. If you’re hurt, call for help. Use a soft voice, though, in case the bear is still nearby.
If all else fails, be ready to fight back. First, try to scare the bear away by making yourself appear bigger and more intimidating. Raise your arms and hands above your head, stare at its eyes, stomp your feet and make loud noises. Look for a piece of branch or anything you can brandish threateningly. If the bear still attacks, spray it with the deterrent and hit it with the stick or a huge rock. Punch and kick its eyes and nose if you drop your weapons. Stay on its sides. You’re giving it an advantage if you fight face-to-face.
Always bring some kind of weapon with you. Of course you have a gun when you’re out hunting, Unfortunately, guns are only 50% effective against bears. Discharging your firearm will only agitate the bear more and could, in fact, make things worse if it hasn’t attacked you yet. Use it only when you’re sure it’s going to attack you and especially if the bear spray failed.
Most people don’t pack a gun when they’re just out hiking or camping. A survival knife is your best weapon for self-defense aside from bear spray. If you have a tactical flashlight or a tactical pen, you may want to bring them, as well. Use these weapons in hand-to-claw combat to survive animal attacks. If these are not options, use anything you have or can find. Use your trekking pole, multi-tool, folding shovel, a huge branch, or tie something heavy to the end of your paracord and swing it at the animal. Again, aim for the eyes and nose.
There’s some debate whether torch lights are effective against bears or not. At least one product claims it’s the best tactical flashlight to fight bears. What you can possibly do in the absence of other more effective bear deterrents and with a bear very likely to attack is to try to startle it by pointing the light at its eyes. If you’re lucky, the temporary blindness will make the bear go away. If not, you at least give you some time to prepare for the fight or walk slowly away. Also, you can use the tactical flashlight to jab at its eyes and face.
When it comes to survival knives, you need one that will give you the best chance of surviving a bear fight. According to Field & Stream, a knife with an 8-inch double-edged blade works best on hogs and may do so with bears, too.
Mossy Oak made Field & Stream’s short list of survival knives for to use against bears. The ones pictured here are 10.5-inch and 8-inch versions of the Mossy Oak Bowie Knife. Both knives have full tang 3CR13 blades and non-slip leather handles. Their nylon sheath attaches to your belt making it easier and faster grab your knife in drastic survival situations such as a bear fight.
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Survive Dog Attacks
Perhaps surprising to many, one of the most common animal attack perpetrators was man’s best friend. Dogs, along with farm animals and bees, were behind most of the fatal animal attacks in the US from 2008 to 2015, according to Wilderness & Environmental Medicine.
Like with most animals, you have to stay calm when you encounter a ferocious dog. While dogs have been proven not to smell fear, they have this uncanny ability to detect if a person is nervous. What they “smell” are the pheromones that are released during physiological changes to your body caused by your fight-or-flight response.
Avoid Stray, Feral or Unfamiliar Dogs
The dog lover in you will probably want to save every stray animal you see. That’s really not a safe thing to do, however. Before you approach an unfamiliar dog, make sure you are properly equipped. Better yet, call someone who’s trained to handle such situations.
It’s best to stay away from dogs you’re not acquainted with, especially if they are eating, playing with a toy, or clearly aggressive. Dogs get hostile when they think their food, toys, or territory is threatened.
Don’t Run Away
When you encounter a dog, avoid making eye contact or running away. Do not agitate the dog further with sudden movements or loud noises. Stay motionless for a while then move away slowly while watching the dog with your peripheral vision.
If there is high ground nearby such as a car, head towards it slowly. Climb up and make your stand right there or at least wait until the dog leaves.
If it seems like the dog is going to attack, find something you can put between you and the animal. Look for a stick or protect yourself with your bag or jacket. Look for rocks or anything you can throw at the dog when it starts charging at you. Summon your inner Cy Young and aim for the eyes or throat. If it gets too close and you don’t have enough time to pick something up, give it a few good kicks to create distance and hurt it until it realizes you’re not one to be messed with.
Hurting the dog is a little inhumane but necessary if your life is at stake. A better option is to always carry a pepper spray. There are pepper sprays made specifically for dogs but you can use the regular pepper spray, the one used on naughty humans. The Mace Brand Muzzle Canine Repellent is, as the name suggests, a pepper spray for dogs. Its formula is half as potent as human pepper spray since dogs are more sensitive.
Human pepper sprays will also work on dogs and other animals except for the larger ones like bears. A good choice for a pepper spray, which you can use to stave off human and animal attacks, is the Sabre Red Pepper Spray Keychain.
If you’re dealing with a pack of dogs, don’t let them trap you in a circle. The subservient dogs will try to get behind you while the dominant ones will stay in front of you. Prevent that from happening by scaring the leaders away. The submissive dogs will do what the dominant ones do.
Seek Medical Attention
If the dog manages to bite you, wash your wounds with soap and water immediately then get medical help. If the canine is rabid, you’re in danger of getting infected with rabies or other diseases. Get vaccinated before the bite becomes fatal. Also, inform local authorities and animal control so they’re aware of a possibly rabid dog attacking people.
Survive Bee Attacks
They’re tiny, kind of cute and definitely important to survival of the planet. Those, however, are not enough to keep them from being one of the top killers of human beings.
According to the National Vital Statistics System, a total of 1,109 people were killed by bees, wasps and hornets from 2000 to 2017. That’s an average of 62 people each year that did not survive animal attacks. Interestingly, 80% of the casualties were men.
The most idiotic thing to do when you see a hive or nest is to throw rocks at it. We’ve seen that happen in countless movies and cartoons but those are just for laughs. In reality, that can be fatal. If you see a beehive or a hornet’s nest, leave it alone. It’s that simple.
Keep Bees Out
One key to survive animal attacks is to prevent them from ever happening. We’re not talking time travelling here or time heist as Scott Lang described it. We’re talking prevention.
Scout bees tend to enter structures looking for places suitable to build a new beehive. It’s common to find a hive in attics and roof beams. If they decide on an area in your home, the risks of getting attacked by bees will definitely shoot up. Prevent this by covering all possible entryways.
In case they’re already inside, you need to get them out. Call a beekeeper immediately. If you prefer to do it yourself, please use natural methods. Bees are valuable to the planet so shoo them away from your home without killing them or harming the environment.
One way to get rid of bees naturally to use a DIY bee spray with essential oil as the main ingredient. Simply mix a drop each of cinnamon oil, peppermint oil, and tea tree oil with a cup of baby shampoo. Use the unscented variant. Pour it into a spray bottle and spray away.
If You Are Stung
Only 5 to 7.5 percent of the population is allergic to bee stings, according to Journal of Asthma and Allergy. If you’re one of the unlucky few, it’s a good idea to be prepared in case a bee attacks you. Once you or someone nearby is stung by a bee, watch out for symptoms of a possibly fatal allergic reaction.
Symptoms of a mild or normal reaction include sharp burning pain, warmth, red welt, and swelling around the sting area. These are okay and will go away naturally in a matter of hours. Moderate reactions to stings include extreme redness and swelling, which may grow larger in the next couple of days. This should resolve itself in five to ten days so you don’t have to worry that much.
As for treating non-fatal stings, you must take the stinger out immediately to prevent more venom to be released into your body. Take note that only bees leave a stinger. Wasps, hornets and yellow jackets do not.
Also, if you’re stung on your hand, take your ring off immediately. It’ll be extremely difficult to remove it once your fingers start to swell.
Reduce swelling with an ice pack or by taking antihistamine. Ibuprofen will help you deal with the pain. Most importantly, be vigilant and watch out for signs of a severe reaction to the sting.
The worrisome signs include dizziness, difficulty breathing, vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. A severe allergic reaction or anaphylactic reaction may also cause a weak pulse, skin reactions such as hive, wheezing, swelling tongue and throat, restless and anxiety, and loss of consciousness.
When the victim goes into anaphylactic shock, quickly check the airway, breathing, and circulation or the ABCs. Perform CPR if necessary. Check the patient for an epinephrine injector such as an EpiPen. It should be inside a case similar to the one in the video below.
The EpiPen will be stored inside a tube. Remove the cap and take the EpiPen out. Hold the injector with the tip pointing down. Release the safety with your free hand then inject it immediately into the outer thigh of the sting victim. The EpiPen will penetrate clothing so you don’t have to worry about the pants.
Hold the injector at a 90-degree angle to the leg and several inches from the outside of the thigh. Make sure the black tip is facing the leg. Jab the injector into the thigh and listen for the click. Wait for ten seconds as the epinephrine is injected into the thigh. It’s done when the red appears on the window. Massage the thigh after removing the injector then place it back into the tube. Call 911 or go to the doctor immediately.
Follow Gentleman Pirate Club to know more tips on how to survive animal attacks. We only dealt with three of the most common animal culprits this. Watch out for future posts on featuring other animal attacks such as alligators, sharks, lions, and hippos. Stay tuned.