Teva Tip 14 - Fears of Nature 2 - Large Animals
We asked 200 Jewish professionals, students, parents and singles across the United States, "What are your greatest fears of nature?"
The results are interesting. The number one fear is large animals (the type of animal depending on the geographic location of the respondent). The number two fear is snakes. Number three is spiders and insects (bees, mosquitoes). The forth most common fear is getting lost. And number five is "going to the bathroom in the woods." Over the next several months, I will offer insights into dealing with each of these fears. While it is important to be aware of potential dangers in the outdoors, there is nothing "out there" which cannot be managed nicely.
#2 - Animals
Alligators, bears, mountain lions and even raccoons are
some of the many animals people fear in nature. While it is true that any of these animals can attack a person, the reality is that few of them do. And when they do, there is always a good reason.
Animals do not wake up in the morning and say, "Ahhh, think I'll eat a human today." In fact, 90% of the animal attacks that take place are actually caused by the victims of these attacks.
High on the list of mistakes that people make around wild animals is forgetting they are dealing with wild animals. Several years ago, for example, a father and mother put honey on they young child's hand so they could get a picture of a bear licking it off. This act of lunacy led to the mauling of the child. And countless numbers of people insist on getting as close as possible to moose and bear to take their pictures. Inevitably these close encounters lead to animals charging these photographers.
Another common mistake people make is to get too close to the young of large animals. There isn't a mother alive who will not do whatever is
necessary to protect her young. Getting between a mama bear and her cubs is a sure way to get mama upset. The best thing to do when sighting a young animal is to walk away from it slowly and scan your
surroundings to determine where mom is.
And yet another source of problems is the food-littered campsite or the snack food kept in the tent overnight.
I'll never forget one camping trip when a young fellow decided to take some crackers to bed. In the middle of the night, I heard a yell from his tent, "Gabe, there's a raccoon on me." And there was. The little critter had eaten through the tent and was trying to figure out how to eat through his sleeping bag to get the crackers. Bears are best known for their sense of smell. Natives have a saying, "The deer, she hear you. The bear, he smell you. If there are any bears in your neck of the woods, take extra caution in storing your food at night. Your best option is to hang food in a bag from an overhanging branch that is at least 100 years from your campsite.
Last but not least, know the animals in the areas where you will be camping or hiking.
There is a tremendous difference between the behavior of the black, grizzly and polar bears, for example. Black bears are curious but not terribly territorial. If confronted by one, stand your ground. If he comes up to you, toss some rocks at his nose. If confronted by a grizzly, you'd best play dead. Keep your eyes closed, protect your head and stomach. If confronted by a polar bear, you'd better have a powerful guy. Polar bears consider anything moving to be a source of food.
When I am blessed to see an alligator in the Everglades or a black bear in the Pocono Mountains, I remember that these creatures are doing nothing
more than what Creator instructed them to do. I stand my distance and admire these incredible and awe-inspiring creators. And then I give thanks for the experience and I continue on my way. Have fun.