It’s hunting season. You’re searching for that perfect trophy and possibly dinner. But you’re not the only one with a pack to feed.
These hunting grounds belong to someone else. Wolf attacks are a rare occurrence, with only 49 documented cases in Alaska and Canada from 1942 to 2002.
But as long as man encroaches on nature, that can change. In 2019, Russ Fee awoke to screams from a neighboring campsite. He found a wolf dragging a man by his arm away from his family. Fee kicked the wolf in the hip and yelled and threw rocks, saving the man’s life. That strategy worked against one wolf, but what if you’re surrounded by a whole pack?
How fast can a wolf run? And where am I vulnerable?
Some humans have spent their entire lives in the wilderness without ever spotting this elusive predator. But with hunting pushing their population to the brink of extinction, and man further infringing on their territory, wolf sightings have increased.
So if face to snout with this deadly canine, here’s what you can do to turn things around.
Step 1. Act Submissive and Don’t Run
Wolves often hunt their prey by chasing it. Running away could trigger their instinct to chase you down. In a short burst, a gray wolf can sprint up to 65 kilometers (40 miles) per hour.
Your cardio classes haven’t prepared you for this footrace. To avoid any escalation, don’t make eye contact, as this can be interpreted as a direct challenge. Keep your head lowered and bowed slightly.
Step 2: Assert Your Dominance
If the wolf continues to come closer, immediately raise your arms above your head. Rise to your full height, clap your hands and shout aggressively.
To a wolf, this loud display could be viewed as claiming your territory. It may not scare it away, but it might buy you extra time to escape.
Step 3: Back Away Slowly
As the wolf approaches, back away slowly, but don’t turn your back on it. Keep calm and stay balanced as you walk carefully backwards.
Falling down will make you an easy target, like a turtle on its back. If possible, try to approach a group of people or find a nearby fire.
Wolves hate fire and will back off as they get closer to the smoke. And if you’re feeling really limber, you may also want to climb that tree behind you, but remember to stay facing the wolf.
Step 4: Curl Into a Fetal Position
If the wolf lunges at you, protect your jugular, as wolves attack the neck and throats of their prey for a quick and easy kill. The tips of a gray wolf’s canine teeth can produce a pressure of almost 500 newtons (N), making short work of bones and exposed flesh.
Staying in a protected position will at least keep your vital spots safe from this carnivore’s powerful jaws.
Step 5: Strike With Nearby Objects
Fighting back can prove to the wolf that you are not an easy meal. Throw rocks, sticks, whatever you have at hand and aim for its sensitive face.
Showing you won’t go down without a fight could be enough to make the wolf question the confrontation and retreat.
Step 6: Protect the Weak
Wolves instinctively attack the weakest of the pack. This puts small children, the elderly, and the injured at greatest risk.
Band together in a circle and keep the most vulnerable people in the center of the group. Don’t break ranks, and make sure there’s a person watching in every direction to monitor any perimeter area wolf activity.
Wolves rarely attack humans in the wild, but should you wander near their dens or breeding grounds, you could be perceived as a threat. Watch for their signs, such as assorted sizes of wolf droppings on the ground, gnawed bones and plastic litter.
Listen for their vocalizations of barking or repeated howling. And always keep an eye out for their tracks.
So you escaped that wolf by backing away, and acting big, but what happened to the campsite? Where is everyone? How are you going to survive lost in this forest?