News / Utah / 
How to protect yourself from wild animals

Tom Reichner, Shutterstock

How to protect yourself from wild animals

By Camilla Stimpson | Posted - Aug. 23, 2017 at 8:04 p.m.

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

SALT LAKE CITY — The United States is home to many wildlife, particularly in Utah, making it common for humans to encounter wildlife. Just this summer, a couple encountered a cougar while hiking in California's Sequoia National Park and another cougar was spotted in a neighborhood in Tooele.

There are other wild animals that could show potential aggression to humans, such as bears, moose, bobcats and more.

With tips from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources website, here are some things you should do when encountering a wild animal:

Bears =====

When seeing a bear, be sure to give the bear a chance to leave. Do not run, climb a tree, lie down, back up, or play dead. Stand your ground. A bear is not being aggressive if it stands, grunts or makes other noises — it means the bear is figuring out what you are.

If a bear attacks, first use bear spray. This has a 92 percent effective rate according to Wild Aware Utah. Other options could be fighting back with rocks, sticks, backpacks, guns and more.

Birds of prey =============

Utah is home to many raptors, eagles, hawks and owls, and running into them can be a common encounter. Just last year, a hawk was nesting on BYU campus and attacking teachers and students who passed by.

Birds of prey build nests near people generally when there is no other place available for them in the wild. If a bird nests in your yard, you can protect your house by attaching netting to the roof, gliders, or beams and draping them across the front of the building with a secure base.

Covering vents, attics and other openings with mesh or netting is also a good precaution.

Birds of prey are protected by the law and it is illegal to kill one, whether or not they are on your property.

Bobcats =======

Bobcats have been spotted within urban areas of Utah, however, it is more common to have them prey on small pets as opposed to conflicts with humans. If you live in an area where bobcats are common, you can keep your pets safe by keeping them in at night, not leaving pet food and water dishes inside and trim shrubbery that bobcats could potentially hide in.

Cougars =======

Human-cougar interactions are not uncommon in this state, and it’s important to know what to do if you encounter one. First, stop as soon as you see it and do not approach or run from it. Always maintain eye contact and keep children and pets close. Make yourself as large as possible, such as raising your arms and jacket up. Use a loud and firm voice and back away slowly from the cougar and leave the area.

If you are attacked, protect your head and neck and fight back. The cougar will probably run away if you are aggressive enough.


Coyotes =======

The best thing to do when encountering a coyote is to be as loud as possible. Make sound so that it knows you’re there. Always face the coyote and back away slowly while shouting. Try to make yourself as big as possible.

If you live in an area with a large coyote population, you can protect your house from them by flashing strobe lights and sirens to scare them away.

Moose =====

Moose can often be found on hiking trails in Utah and they can be particularly aggressive. If you encounter a moose on a trail, give it lots of space. Talk to make your presence known and slowly back away. Signs of an aggressive moose includes hair raising on the back of the neck, licking their snout or their ears tucked back.

The best thing to do when a moose charges at you is to hide behind something large and solid such as a rock or tree. If it knocks you down, protect your head and lie still in a ball.

Raccoons ========

Raccoons are often found within urban areas of Utah, usually digging through people’s garbage cans. If a raccoon is on your property, they can usually be scared away by making loud noises. If that doesn’t work, spraying them with a hose or water gun will sometimes do the trick.

It is best to contact a professional if a raccoon makes its way inside of your home. Do not use food as bait to get it out of your house.

Skunks ======

Skunks are not generally aggressive unless their babies are in trouble. Spraying is their first form of attacking. Warning signs of this are stomping their feet and raising their tail beforehand.

When confronted with a skunk, do not feed it and try to stay at least 20 feet away. Leave the area quietly and slowly when faced with a skunk.

If sprayed, Wild Aware Utah recommends washing yourself and your clothes with vinegar and to rinse out your eyes as soon as possible.

Related Stories

Camilla Stimpson


    Catch up on the top news and features from, sent weekly.
    By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

    KSL Weather Forecast