Sorry for the inflammatory title, but I always worry about bears. I’ve had a few encounters with them, so I am very “bear aware”. As a result of that, I always carry a cannister of bear spray when I am in a bear prone location – like the SNP.
I was fishing on Seneca Creek in Gaithersburg the other day and a pit bull runs up and starts growling and barking at me. Since Seneca was not what I considered to be a “bear prone” location, I had left the spray at home. Hmmm. After a short standoff, the owner finally caught up with the dog and got it under control. However, I realized that in many of the locations I fish, there are hikers who use the trails as well. Many of these hikers also have dogs and most of them seem to like to let their dogs just run free.
The conclusion? Dogs like this pit bull may be a bigger challenge than a bear. There are more of them in contact with people and they are all probably nervous that they are in the woods, with strange smells and when they see wierd looking people waving big sticks around, they react defensively. After all, many dogs, especially the more aggressive breeds, instinctively react to defend their owner against perceived threats.
From here on out, my bear spray will stay with me and I will be alert for a different potential threat – one I would not have envisioned a month ago.
For details on bear tactics, here’s an older post on that topic.
Here’s a great book on how to deal with bears: Bear Aware Survival Guide
Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore