Scoutmaster Musings - Animal Behavior

> > > Triple Prizes < < < 

Scoutmaster Musings

Animal Behavior
Hiking Trail Raccoon On the trail this morning, there was a big dark blob far ahead. In the early morning gloom, I couldn't make it out but it was certainly not there yesterday.
It moved.
Oh, just a rodent, another raccoon scrounging around getting into mischief. But, as I walked closer, it didn't scurry off. As a matter of fact, it looked my way and started coming towards me.

Now, wait a minute. I'm 6-1, 175 pounds and he's 1-2, 20 pounds. Why's he coming at me?
"Hey, go away! Hyah, move it!" Nothing, he just keeps waddling towards me so I start backstepping to keep 20 feet or so between us.

He stopped. I stopped and watched. He kind of teetered and swayed like a drunk trying to stay upright.

Now there's no food that he's protecting. No young ones. I can't see or think of anything that makes his behvior make sense. So, I figure there's something wrong with this guy and I'm not about to get bit or scratched by some zombie raccoon.

Since I was in no hurry, I just watched him. He swayed. He turned. He took a few awkward, uncoordinated steps. I waited.

When he finally got over to the side of this wide trail with his back to me, I quickstepped past him on the other side of the trail. He didn't twitch, budge, or react.

So, how should we interact with animals we meet? We should minimize our impact and respect wildlife according to Leave No Trace principles. If our presence is affecting the animal's behavior then we are too close and should remove ourselves from the area.

Normally, an animal will scurry away from humans, recognizing us as threats. You've probably seen squirrels, chipmunks, birds, snakes, rabbits, maybe even turkey, deer, and fox while out hiking. They will run, fly, or slither away as fast as they can until they feel safe. Sometimes just a few feet to stop and look at you. At that point, our reaction should be to continue down the trail, leaving them alone.

But, if their behavior is inconsistent with what is normally expected then the situation might be dangerous. They may feel threatened and cornered, they may have young to protect, or they may be sick. In those cases, any animal may hold its ground or even attack.

When outdoors, keep your eyes and ears open for animals. If you notice any strange behavior, give ground and move away, probably back the way you came. Keep your eye on the animal. When the aggressive behavior stops or you feel you are a safe distance, watch the animal and make a plan. If you wait long enough, most likely the animal will move off the trail and you can continue.

Posted: 11:46 10-17-2011 685
    Previous Post     Next Post        archives:   2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009  2008  2007  2006  2005      Scoutmaster Musings - RSS Feed

Site Disclosure Statement

Follow Me, Boys

Recent Comments
Major Dad on Msgr Peace Award
Major Dad on Msgr Peace Award
Michelle W on Archery belt loop
Tom on Boy Scout Uniform
Larry A on Totin Chip award
Paul on Boy Scout Uniform
Mary on Boy Scout Uniform
Mary on Square Knots
Maria on 2nd Class Scout
Mark Kilcup on Fly Fishing MB
More Comments...

Contest   -   Ask a Question   -   Add Content   -   scout software

This site is not officially associated with the Boy Scouts of America
listeria testingscout software
Boy Scouts  
Boy Scout Trail
Cub Scouts
Boy Scouts
My Blog

Group Games
Merit Badges
SM Minutes
Pen Pals

Online Tests
Our Schedule
Our Progress


Shop 4 Stuff
Privacy Policy
ICRA labeled

Find more Scouting Resources at
This site is not officially associated with the Boy Scouts of America
Boy Scout Trail Home Bobcat Tiger Cub Scout Wolf Cub Scout Bear Cub Scout Webelos Boy Scout Tenderfoot Scout 2nd Class Scout 1st Class Scout Star Scout Life Scout Eagle Scout