Living Dangerously

I admired the way in which Terry casually mentioned a bear on Big Sky Drive, like it’s an everyday occurrence, nothing to be worried about. That’s just above our house! After telling my husband we will never, ever walk Big Sky again, I researched what to do if attacked by a bear:

There are things to do if the bear does attack that might save your life.  The current wisdom is: If a bear attacks, fall to the ground and play dead.  Try to lie flat on your stomach or curl into a ball and try to keep your hands behind your neck. Lying flat and still make the bear think you are no longer a threat and often they will stop the attack and leave. Stay motionless as long as you can since if you move and the bear is still within sight or hearing it may attack again. If a bear thinks you are food and continues biting after you have taken a defensive posture fight back as best you can.

Well, God forbid the poor thing should feel threatened. I don’t see any mention of pain, so I guess I can keep still while a big old bear chomps down on me, till it realizes I mean it no harm and goes on its merry way. But what if it’s plain hungry? Fight back as best you can? Are they joking? How are you supposed to fight a massive mountain of claws and teeth with your bare hands?

Then there are the mountain lions. They are here all the time, higher up the mountain and seldom seen. But they have been seen, and do come down lower during winter. I’ve seen their prints myself in the snow alongside the roads and at the base of hiking trails.

Be sure to always make eye contact with the lion and stand up as tall as possible. Open your jacket and flap it about, yell, throw stones but make sure you react so that it knows that you are the one in control, not him. Never turn your back on a lion, never squat or bend over at anytime. If you are attacked, fight back. Never succumb or roll into a ball. Hit as hard as possible especially to the head area. If you can retrieve a stick or large rock, use it as a weapon. If face to face with the cat, go for the eyes by clawing or throwing sand in the face of the cat. Mountain lions will usually strike the back of the head and especially the neck so be vigilant to protect these areas and if at all possible remain standing or face to face with the animal once it is attacking. Under no circumstances fall to the ground and roll into a fetal position.

What if I faint and just naturally fall into a fetal position? Huh? Tell me that? What if I’m not wearing a jacket to flap, or a jacket that’s not flappable? What if there are no rocks or sand about to throw? Am I really supposed to dig my fingers into a mountain lion’s eyes? Well yuk!

We get bobcats here too. A bobcat can kill prey that weights ten times its own weight. Bobcat attacks on people are rare but do happen. I couldn’t find anything about how to defend against a bobcat attack, but an article mentioned a man who strangled a rabid bobcat with his bare hands. Rabid bobcats! It gets better and better. . . .

Moose. I see moose all the time, they come through our property and have even been on our deck, and they eat our trees, but I’ve never been attacked by one. I think if that happened, my only option would be to run like hell and get behind something, or climb a tree. When I’m driving and come upon a moose in the middle of the road, or even on the side of the road, I turn the car and go the other way. In a moose/automobile collision, nobody wins.

Skunk? When I meet a skunk, I run the other way. Don’t laugh – I was sprayed by a skunk once and hope never the repeat the experience.

But you know what? I’m not really that concerned about meeting up with a bear, or a mountain lion, or a bobcat. I like seeing the moose ambling through our property. I would rather face all of the above than tangle with the worse danger to be encountered in our mountain valley, a creature so evil, its behavior so insidious, we lose several tourists to it every year. It lurks on the side of the road, looking harmless enough, until you approach it. Very often it creeps further into the road, encouraging the unsuspecting motorist to move it out the way. Failing that, it falls over and lays there looking pathetic. Never, EVER take pity, go over there and help it up, because if you do, the lid will come down and take off your hand, or your head.

Ours are blue. What color are your garbage cans?

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