Picture the scene: You’re on holidays in a heavily wooded area of Eurasia or North America. As the sun starts to go down, you begin to make your way back toward camp. Suddenly, a set of sharp teeth belonging to a snarling wolf appears in front of you — and it’s not alone. Here’s what you do.
Illustration by Sam Woolley.
If you ever do encounter a wolf, wild dog or dingo, it will likely bring some friends along. As wolf handler Oliver Starr explains, they’re pack hunters that cover very large areas of uninhabited land.
Wolves are also “coursing predators”, meaning they like to take their prey on the run. So if you encounter a pack of wolves, do not run or they will chase you. More often than not, if you stand your ground, they will leave you be. If they don’t back down, Starr suggests these tips:
- Don’t try to stare the wolves down. They regard eye contact as a challenge.
- Don’t turn your back on the wolves since they will be incited to try and flank you.
- Make yourself appear larger by raising your arms above your head, or raising a jacket or shirt.
- Shout at the wolves as loud as you can.
- Throw rocks at the wolves if you can do so without making yourself vulnerable.
- Back away slowly as you do all of the things above, but be extra careful not to trip. A fall could encourage the wolves to strike.
Starr has survived a wolf attack himself that left him seriously injured. That was just one wolf and it only gave in after another handler grabbed its testicles and yanked hard (something worth remembering). He stresses that if an entire pack decides to attack you, and you’re alone, there’s not much you can do.
Fortunately, wolf attacks are very rare, usually happening to hunters who have gone far out of their way to hunt in the extreme middle of nowhere. While there aren’t any wolves in Australia, these tips will help you if you’re ever surrounded by a pack of wild dogs or dingoes.
This is part of Lifehacker’s Animal Attacks Series. As capable as we humans think we are, bears, snakes, wolves, sharks and even bees can turn a fun day outside into a harsh, potentially life-threatening reality check. Here’s what to do when you find yourself face to face with some of the deadliest beasts in the great outdoors.