If you are going camping or hiking with your Girl Scout troop, it’s important to know what to do if you encounter a wild animal. The most important thing to remember is that wild animals are… wild! Some may look cute and friendly but they are not pets.
Generally, any animals you see will not attack or bite if you leave it alone. It is possible that a sick animal may behave aggressively so always keep plenty of distance from any wild animal. If you see baby animals, assume that there is a protective mother nearby and do not try to pet them.
Seeing a wild an animal is exciting. Bring binoculars so you can observe them from a safe distance. Remember that when you are in the woods, you are a guest in the animals’ home. Be respectful. Don’t try to sneak up on them. In fact, it is best to make plenty of noise so you don’t startle a wild animal.
Generally, woodland animals do not want human contact. They do, however, probably want your food! It’s best to avoid foods and beverages with strong odors. Dry foods are both lighter and less smelly. Even scented deodorants and lotions can attract some animals and insects. If you are camping, never keep any kind of food or beverage in your tent. Food should be securely stored away from the campsite — in your car if possible. Never, ever feed wild animals.
Foxes, raccoons, and skunks will eat just about any food scraps. While they probably don’t want to socialize with you, they are brave enough to wander through your campsite looking for a tasty meal. Unless threatened or sick, these animals will not hurt you but they sure can make a mess of your garbage and eat all of your food. Trying to scare them away may not work if they are hungry. You can try shining a bright light at them.
Many woodland animals are nocturnal but you may also see them during the day. A nursing mother may be out during the get to get some extra calories. A sick or hungry animal may also be out during the day, so remember to always keep your distance and respect all wild animals.