Sunday, 25 August 2013

Alaskan dangers.

With my Alaskan trip fast approaching, I have become slightly obsessed with looking at videos on youtube. Not just any old stuff... I'm looking at footage of the Alaskan wild. More precisely, the wildlife going wild... bears attacking humans, bears attacking moose, bears attacking bears, moose attacking humans, wolves attacking moose, and so it goes on.

Alaska has some of the most dangerous animals in the world... Black bears, grizzly bears, wolves, cougars, mountain lions, moose, bison and coyote. And they will all be within half a mile of us at any one time. When we get further north, there is also the cuddly polar bear. Ahhh. Of these beasts, the ones known to attack most often are bears and moose. This is not something they do just because they feel like it though... it usually happens when they are hungry, if they feel threatened, or when they are mating or protecting their young. And what months to they mate and breed, I hear you ask? Well, they mate in September and they give birth in Spring. Oh joy! So we're going in full-on rutting and bonking season!


I do understand them getting slightly irritated at this special time, I mean no one likes coitus interuptus. I imagine bears and moose getting pretty stroppy when they are making their smooth moves with their particular love interest, a Barry White track playing in their heads, when an annoying tourist totally ruins the mood by taking a flash photo. I watched a youtube video of a woman getting head butted by a moose in Anchorage. The moose was minding its own business, eating some leaves off a tree, in a park, when this stupid woman creeps forward, standing about ten feet away from it and starts snapping away. The moose turns around, a little camera shy, and carries on eating. So she then walks around it and starts taking photos from the front. Ok, so now the moose is peeved. It snorts at her and still she carries on. But then it suddenly charges forward and head butts her. It must have been like being hit by a car... She falls to the ground and then the moose just stands over her and gives her a kick. It actually looks quite funny because the moose sort of looks over its shoulder, making sure no ones looking before giving her the boot. She was soooo annoying, I would have done the same. Poor moose.


But my God, that would have hurt. Both grizzly and moose adults can reach a weight of 1500 lbs. So, just imagine 7 of me, tied up in a bungee cord, and then thrown at you. Ouch! But at least moose are herbivores, bears eat meat. They eat humans. So if you come across an angry bear in the woods, it's not going to just give you a kick, it's going to eat your face.


There is varied advice on how to survive a bear attack. The first and most important rule is... try not to bump into one in the first place. But if you do, your defence will differ depending on if its a black bear or a grizzly. Black bears are smaller, are very fast runners and can climb trees so you won't be able to get away. Therefore the advice is to either: play dead or fight back. Oh great. Playing dead means they might bite you a bit and then get bored but it says 'don't even make a noise if its attacking you, you must really play dead no matter what it does'. So don't be pathetic and scream as it chews your arm off. Just be quiet! I'm not sure that's possible... So the second option is fight back. Hmmm. Really not sure about this either. I could do the same moves I've learnt in self defence. Spray them in the face with mace, knee them in the balls whilst sticking your fingers up their nose and gouging their eyes out. It could work.


Grizzly bears are more dangerous however. They are slower, but larger. They are always grumpy and will get even more irritated if you spray them in the face or attempt some amateur 'tae kwon do' moves on them. According to one hunters blog, even shooting a bear will just 'tick him off', unless your aim is really good and you get him right in the head. In fact, the last paragraph of his website says, "If you are unarmed and attacked by a grizzly then chances are, you will end up as bear poo." Great!


But my favourite piece of advice was on a tourism website, and I have to say, I love their sense of humour. They advertise Bear Insurance... and when you read the paragraph underneath, in small print , it says:


Alaskan Bear Insurance: Finding someone in your group who is slower (and usually fatter) than you.

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