The good new is that humans, thanks to our ability to reason and our opposable thumbs, are apex predators. However, it also stands to reason that unless your opposable thumbs are gripping a hunting spear while you hike, you need to use those wits of yours to acquire knowledge about wildlife and how to deal with it peacefully.
To put your mind at ease right off the bat, bear in mind that animals prefer not to eat adult humans. We are way too big to pick off as a casual kill, and furthermore we reek of gross chemicals (deodorant, hairspray, scented lotions...). We are usually slathered with goo that is absolutely disgusting to animals and is no invitation to dinner for the sensitive noses of predators.
However, we carry delicious things in our backpacks and we are slobs who scatter yummy scraps all over the trail. It is the scent of our scrumptious treats that have conditioned animals to associate humans with food. As hikers, we can keep ourselves and others safe by practicing good Leave No Trace
wilderness principals which help animals unlearn to associate humans with a quick snack.
- Never drop litter on the trail. Always carry a little sack for trash and carry out what you carry in.
- Observe animals from afar, do not follow or approach them.
- Don't feed animals.
- Store your food and trash securely. (Don't leave that bag of Cheez Its open on the ground while you run off to tinkle.) Keep open food within arms reach, otherwise store it securely in your pack.
- Leave your dog at home. Little dogs are just advertising themselves as "Lunch" and big dogs disturb wildlife that's minding its own business.
- If you see a wild animal with its babies, stay far far away. Mama's first priority is to protect its young at all cost. You will be the cost.
- If it is winter in the snow, or spring just after animals have awakened from hibernation, big wild animals will be super duper hungry! This is the time to use extreme caution and learn more about safe practices in that area.
Basically, the Southern California day hiker doesn't have a lot to worry about in the way of threats from wild animals, but there are ways to be sure both you and the animals will remain safe from harm. Below are a few practical pointers about various animals (and bugs) you will encounter while hiking in the Los Angeles area. Read on... (Linked page is accessible to Members Only. Become a member now.)
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