Many people who go off-grid love the idea of not having any neighbors, but one thing they learn quickly is they do still have neighbors—they just aren’t of the human variety. Co-existing with wildlife is simply a part of living off the grid. While everything in nature has its place and all creatures deserve to be treated with respect, wild animals can be dangerous and unpredictable, and they are best avoided. (For a glimpse of exactly what can happen when people get too close to the wild animals that share their neighborhood, check out the Animal Planet channel’s series Fatal Attractions.) If you were to encounter a bear or a mountain lion unexpectedly, would you know what to do?


When Wild Animals Attack

There are many different animals you may encounter when living off the grid, and these include bears, mountain lions, coyotes, deer, boar, moose, wolves, raccoons, and venomous snakes. Any of these animals has the capacity to be very destructive, and some can also cause serious maiming and even lethal injuries. Certain species are more likely to attack, and you’ll want to research this ahead of time. Some reasons a wild animal may feel threatened include feeling like their territory is being invaded, protecting offspring, protecting food, fear, surprise, and confusion. In certain cases, if an animal has become a problem and has repeatedly been aggressive toward humans or has attacked pets or livestock, you may be able to contact local forestry organizations to have the animals removed.


How to Protect Yourself

If you encounter a bear or other dangerous predator, your survival will depend on how prepared you are and how quickly you are able to assess the situation and react. The first thing you’ll need to determine is whether or not the animal is behaving aggressively toward you or if you are in the way of food that it is trying to access. Familiarize yourself with the signs of aggression in any of the wild animals that are native to your region. Some animals can be driven away by yelling, but it can escalate the situation with others. There is no one way to react to a wild animal, and each incident will need to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis that will vary depending on the species and the situation.

Don’t Feed the Wildlife

It’s obvious to most people that feeding bears or other animals because you think they are cute is a potentially deadly mistake, but what many people don’t realize is they are risking unintentionally training bears to think of their cabin, camp, or tiny house as an all-you-can-eat buffet that is open every night of the week if they do not dispose of their garbage correctly. In this case an ounce of prevention is potentially worth 600 lbs. of cure, because that is the average size of an adult black bear. It pays to invest in bear-proof garbage cans, or to build a shelter so you can keep your cans in a closed-off and protected area. Another solution many people choose is to invest in a high-quality fence to keep predators away from their dwelling.


Safer Trash Habits for Off-Grid Living

One man’s trash is another bear’s treasure, or a racoon’s, or even a large family of raccoons’, so if you’re living off-grid you can protect yourself from unwanted visitors by taking steps to reduce your garbage output. You can drastically cut down on the amount of trash you put out in the first place by purchasing items with glass or biodegradable packaging whenever possible. By avoiding buying goods that have plastic packaging you can significantly reduce your waste, which will reduce your risk of attracting animals as well as reducing your impact on the environment. Reduce your environmental footprint and protect yourself and your family at the same time by researching any wildlife that is native to your area and making sure you are doing everything you can to be safe today.