I was talking to Fox 6 reporter JehJeh Pruitt the other week while filming a segment for Good Day Alabama about the Birmingham Dance Walk when the conversation turned to my trail running. JehJeh asked what my wildest trail running story was and what wild animals I have encountered. He mentioned that a friend of his had been running in a nearby town and had come across a wild boar.
That got me thinking—what does a runner do in a situation like that? I know that the majority of the time the animal will get scared and run off or won’t approach you if you make a lot of noise to begin with, but what if it doesn’t? After some research, it seems like most animals keep to themselves and let you run in peace as long as you don’t surprise them. But just in case an animal does decide to go Cujo on you, here’s what you do:
(The following pictures are all mine, so if I haven’t come across that particular animal, I replaced it with an equally awesome animal.)
Boar – Leave them alone, especially during mating season. If one charges, climb a tree or do whatever you can to avoid their tusks. It’d be like being gouged by a bull, only less noble.
Coyote – These furry creatures won’t attack unless they have rabies or you bother them. If they do, yell, throw rocks, make yourself look bigger than you are. Despite their resemblance to puppies, don’t pet.
Fox – Same as their friend the coyote. If you see one, keep your eyes peeled for Copper the Hound following close behind.
Cougar – I’ve been told we don’t have any in Alabama, but you never know. Plus, these frequent the Colorado trails I will run one day. To avoid a big kitty encounter don’t run at dusk or dawn (ummm that’s the only time I run) and travel with a group. If attacked, don’t run away or play dead. Instead you should make yourself big, shout, and fight like hell once it latches on.
Black Bear – The summer the hubs and I backpacked for 6 weeks we saw 20+ of these fur friends. Including one that was being chased by an idiot with a video camera. If one turns on you, don’t make eye contact but talk to it in a low voice while walking away slowly. Fight back if you need to.
Grizzly Bear – The cuter of the two teddy bears, but sadly the one with the bigger attitude. If one attacks, lie down and play dead while covering your head and neck.
Moose – The scariest and coolest of them all in my opinion. Zack was almost eaten by one. If it starts coming at you, back away slowly and get behind a tree or rock. Or your wife.
Owl – Don’t throw rocks at it and you’ll be fine.
Snake – Avoid at all costs. If it has a rattle, run. If it blends in with the leaves, you’re fucked.
I’d love to hear your fun animal encounter stories!
For your viewing pleasure, let’s play Friend or Foe starring the animals that the Sylvans have encountered on our trips: