Campus wildlife: Tips for safety and coexisting

by Brittney Kupec, Alcohol, Drug and Wellness Educator  |   

Tips for coexisting with wildlife:

  • Do not approach a wild animal. They are not pets, they are wild.
  • Cute ≠ friendly, even if it is a baby animal. Also, the baby animal’s mom is likely nearby. Angry momma animals are definitely not nice.
  • Do not feed the animals. Human food is not for the animals; it is for humans.
  • Call UPD at 907-786-1120 if an animal is aggressive or if you come across a sick animal.

Although the presence of wildlife may delight some and annoy/frighten others, conflicts with wildlife can be avoided if you stay aware and give the animals space. Go about your life (observing from a distance) while giving the animals the respect to go about theirs.

Attacks are rare. However, it is important to know how to most effectively handle the situation.

Moose sighting/encounter

  • Is the moose upset? You can tell if a moose is angry if the hair on the back of its neck stands up and its ears go back.
  • If you encounter an angry moose, back away slowly and give the moose some space. If the moose charges you, run and try to find something sturdy to hide behind (like a tree!).
  • If you get knocked down by a moose, protect your head and neck by curling into a ball and lying still.
  • Be extra cautious around cow moose with calves.

Bear sighting/encounter

  • If you see a bear, stop and take a breath. Try not to panic. You need to first assess the situation.
    • Does the bear see me? Is it heading in my direction?
  • If the bear is a good distance away, doesn’t see you or isn’t approaching you, head away from the bear slowly. Make sure to keep your eyes on the bear at all times.
  • If the bear is approaching you:
    • Talk to the bear in a calm voice and make yourself look big.
    • Even if the bear charges you, hold your ground. This is key because you cannot outrun the bear.
  • What to do in a bear attack:
    • Grizzly/brown bears – play dead. Lay flat on your stomach while using your hands to protect the back of your neck. Try and remain still until the bear leaves.
    • Black bears – do not play dead. Fight back and try to escape. Try and hit the bear where it hurts, on its muzzle and face!
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