Surviving an encounter with a pack of wolves – steps to take

Surviving an encounter with a pack of wolves – steps to take

Have you ever took a trip to the forest and, surprisingly, encountered a pack of wolves?

Wolves can grow larger than an English Mastiff. But unlike their lovable cousins, wolves are predatory animals born to kill.

It’s a terrifying idea: an encounter with the wolves near your campsite or hiking path. Their howls are chilling, and it can be difficult to tell how close they are.

Now, it’s unlikely you’ll have an encounter with a pack of wolves head on. But you’re the outdoors type. Adventure excites you and survival is all about being prepared.

When animals attack, you should know what to do. Here are some steps to take if the inevitable happens.

Don’t run when you see a pack of wolves!

Pack of wolves - wolf in the forest

Running away signals to the wolf that you are an easy prey. They will chase you, and you can’t outrun them.

When you run from hunters like wolves, you tell them to attack. These animals are hesitant to attack head on. Traveling in packs allows wolves to take on large prey – buffalo, moose and even bears. But never head on, and for a good reason.

Large prey can defend themselves with claws, teeth, horns and antlers – all front facing defenses. Wolves will intimidate and surround their targets waiting for a chase.

Running animals have few defenses. A hind leg can be taken out easily and when the animal is down, the pack takes over. So don’t give them what they want. Stand your ground and never run.

Make yourself appear larger

The bigger and scarier you are, the less likely you’ll have a full on encounter with a pack of wolves. They cover large areas, and will always travel somewhere else to find prey.

If they see a risk in attacking, you’re that much safer. Make noise – scream, shout, pick up a stick and bang it around. Although they are terrifying up close, they get scared easily and will usually run away.

Back away slowly

Your encounter with a pack of wolves likely went sour because they are scared. Give them some space.

Pack of wolves - brown wolf winter

The more distance between you and the wolves, the safer they will feel and the more likely they are to leave you alone. Most of the time, they are likely just protecting their home.

If you find yourself in a wolf territory, stay calm and keep the distance. Don’t show your back to them, but instead back away slowly. 

Look for signs of rabies

Usually, wild wolves are timid around humans, so outright aggression is the first sign of rabies. Though the virus is becoming less common in Europe and North America, rabid attacks still happen.

Classic signs are foaming at the mouth and interest in only biting. Unlike in the past, rabid attacks are usually non fatal. Rabies can be treated in most cases.

Avoid being bitten near the neck and the head. Don’t lay down or play dead – this won’t work with a rabid animal and isn’t a good tactic even for healthy wolves.

Pack of wolves - white wolf

If attacked, forcing your arm down a wolves’ throat can keep the animal from being able to bite. Straddling the wolf and choking has worked in other cases. Though full on attack should be your last option.

If you have an encounter with a pack of wolves near your favorite campsite, there are steps you can take. Don’t run, scare them away and back away to safety.

Sounds scary, but truth be told, a lot of situations can be scary when camping in unknown locations. That doesn’t mean it’s not exciting! Make sure you stay safe and who knows, maybe you will gain their trust and be one with the pack! 🙂

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