What to Do When Pac NW Animals Attack

From grizzly bears to cougars, we have the scoop on what to do when faced by a wild animal.
| Updated: November 27, 2018

When Animals Attack
When an experienced hiker was killed by an aggressive mountain goat last fall on a trail near Hurricane Ridge, it brought home to anyone who appreciates the great outdoors the fact that our abundant geographical blessings come with a sobering dose of reality. The wilderness can be a dangerous place, and while human encounters with wild animals are exceedingly rare, no one should ever take a hike without knowing what to do if animals attack.

Black bear: Face the bear and back away slowly. Don’t run, and don’t cower. If the bear attacks, fight back using everything in your power: fists, sticks, rocks, and EPA-registered bear pepper spray. Aim for the bear’s eyes or nose. Don’t play dead. (Black bears eat dead things.)

Grizzly Bear: You’re not likely to encounter a grizzly in Washington state, but if it happens, follow the same procedure as with a black bear. Some people who have survived grizzly attacks have done so by falling to the ground, tucking into a ball and playing dead, but U.S. Forest Service guidelines recommend this only as a last resort.

Cougar (aka mountain lion): Stop, stay calm and do not turn your back on the big cat. Do not run. Make yourself appear as large as possible. Stand up, wave your arms and make noise. If attacked, fight back.


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