While camping is a great way to get out of your home, it also throws you directly into another’s. It is important to be aware of the wildlife you are sharing the wilderness with while RVing.
High Risk Wildlife While RVing
Bears, especially Black Bears, are common in the forests of BC and Alberta. The chances of seeing one while camping are very likely! They are highly intelligent and are led by their keen sense of smell, they can pick up a scent from a mile off! The best way to avoid attracting bears to your camp is to never leave food lying out and to clean up thoroughly after cooking meals. Always place odorous food in plastic bags inside secured containers to seal in odors and store garbage inside buildings. Never leave food or garbage outside overnight or store food inside of your tent.
Attacks while RVing or camping from wildlife such as Bears are extremely rare and usually caused by humans trying to feed, pet, or crowd the Bear. When you are out hiking always make lots of noise! Hike in groups and sing a camp song. Clap your hands or wear a bell on your backpack so you never accidentally surprise a Bear. If a Bear chomps its jaw, lunges, slaps, or brushes the ground with a paw, that means they are feeling threatened by you.
Although they are called Black Bears their colors can range from cinnamon brown, silver blue, and occasionally even white. Black Bears are the smallest type with a straight face profile, no shoulder hump, and shorter, darker claws than Brown Bears. They are great tree climbers and swimmers, and they can run in short bursts up to 40km/h. They are very intelligent but typically shy and easily frightened.
Should you run into a Black Bear, stay calm! Running may trigger a chase response from a bear as you will appear like their prey. Don’t be alarmed if they stand up, they are only curious and are trying to get a better view and sense of smell. Stand your ground and make lots of noise, Black Bears are known to bluff when attacking and if you can intimidate them by making yourself appear big and loud they should run away.
Brown Bears and Grizzly Bears
Grizzly Bears are a sub-species of Brown Bears, but they are much bigger. You can identify them by their humped shoulders and extra-large paws and claws.
If you are spotted by a Grizzly stop and speak in a low calm voice to identify yourself as a human and not one of their familiar prey animals. Avoid moving suddenly, screaming, or making loud noise. Move backward and sideways smoothly and slowly, especially if you spot a cub. Do not run, as it could initiate a chase and you will never outrun a bear. Do not look them in the eye.
In the rare case that a bear should choose to attack, you can play dead with a Brown or Grizzly bear. Lay on your stomach with a pack on your back, hands clasped behind your neck, and legs spread to make it more difficult for the bear to turn you over. If they think you are dead they won’t think you are threatening and should leave you alone. Continue to lay still for 10-20 minutes after the bear leaves. They are known to wait around and watch for movement. DO NOT play dead you think the bear is a Black bear.
Big cats are extremely smart. Usually, the time you spot one, it has already been stalking you for the past hour. However, it is extremely rare for a mountain lion to interact with people. They tend to stalk a single person over a group, and they are more likely to attack small kids than adults. Keep your pets close because they will go after dogs. They are hard to spot if they don’t want to be seen. You can keep an eye out for tracks, droppings, or claw marks on trees to let you know if there is any wildlife in the area.
Much like bears, it is great to be noisy while hiking as to not accidentally startle a big cat. If you happen to spot one, stay calm, do not run, and do not turn your back. Face the animal and talk firmly while backing away and maintaining eye contact. If it does not flee, make yourself look as large as you can! Make noise, bare your teeth and throw anything available. While you’re out in nature, or out RVing, never corner wildlife, or make them feel trapped. Always make sure they have an escape route before you intimidate an animal into fleeing.
Lower Risk Wildlife While RVing
Below are animals that are much less dangerous than mountain lions or bears. However, like with all wildlife while RVing, they should always be treated with respect.
Coyotes, Foxes, and Wolves
If you encounter a coyote, fox, or wolf they are likely more afraid of you than you are of them. If they do not immediately flee then simply make yourself appear large. You can do this by waving your arms, shouting, and throwing things.
Moose attacks are very rare. If you encounter one and it seems unbothered by you simply give it lots of space and leave the area. If it does charge you it is only trying to get you out of the area. So RUN! Moose are very fast but you will not have to run far. You can also find a place to hide or a tree to climb up.
Skunks are nocturnal, so keep an eye out for them if you are out at night. They are most active in the fall and tend to stay close to shade or tall grass. They have very poor eyesight. If you encounter one you should immediately stop moving as to not startle it and get sprayed. Once you have determined which direction the skunk is heading, move out of its path and walk away. Skunks will only spray if they are startled, so just stay quiet and try not to move quickly.
Raccoons are usually nocturnal, but they can also be spotted in the daylight. Securing trash and keeping your campsite clean is a great way to not attract raccoons. They are almost always harmless and should flee when they see you. In the rare case that they are sick or threatened they can become very aggressive. If you meet an aggressive Racoon back away quickly. If you are attacked use your jacket or backpack to protect your face, arms, neck, and hands. Carry pepper spray with you as it can be used in the case of a rabid raccoon.
Know What Wildlife is Around While RVing
One of the best ways to avoid encounters is to be constantly aware of your surroundings. An easy sign to look out for is footprints! See and save our graphics below so you can compare them to what you’re seeing on the trails.
For the creepier, leggier wildlife that you may want to be aware of, visit our Bug Blog!