Wild Animals and SHTF scenario


A common idea that surrounds the idea of prepping is being able to defend yourself. We often mentally picture groups or rioters, looters, and all form of two legged vermin. We plan our defenses based on an increase in perceived human threat. Of course this is a real threat, and we’ve seen that desperate people can go savage, and your everyday two legged predator gets a lot worse. However, what do we do to prepare for animals?

Animals are much more suited to survive a SHTF situation than us. Well at least the more dangerous animals are suited to survive, your parakeet might not make it, but your neighbor’s pitbull may have a decent chance.

In a survival situation we are facing both domestic and wild animals, and our experiences with them will certainly increase. In fact it is more likely that we will find ourselves dealing with animals more often than people.

Domestic Animals

So how long will it take for Fido to become Cujo? Well who really knows? Probably once their stomachs are empty, they are flea ridden, and have found like-minded dogs to run with. Dogs by nature are pack animals and unlike humans they do not have many hang ups regarding different species, races, and genders. This makes them more prone to unite, and to become more effective.

Dogs are territorial by nature, and this can drive them to be aggressive to intruders, i.e. you!

Unfortunately you’re not a dog who can simply smell other animals and know there is trouble.

The best thing you can do is practice situational awareness. I can’t even hold malice towards these animals; they are just surviving and trying to live too. However I have no problem putting a bullet in one that threatens me, and neither should you.

Like all pack creatures, dogs will react in accordance with their alpha male leader. This dog will position himself to the front, facing you, and the other dogs will be taking cues from him. These cues can be any number of things, from a certain growl, head and tail movements, as well as ear placement.

If you come upon a group of dogs who are threatening you, you should identify the alpha if possible. Killing an alpha will send the dogs into a mess of confusion.

My personal experience with wild dogs and alphas comes from Afghanistan where wild packs of dogs were commonplace. Three of these dogs followed our patrol, keeping some distance but were braver when we turned our backs. With me being the second to last man in the patrol, the last guy and I had to take turns watching the dogs as one moved forwards.

Eventually the alpha made his move and my friend took him down. A single, well placed shot from his M4 (my M240 seemed inappropriate) took the dog down. The other two circled him, and smelled and licked him, and left us alone.

If you are settled in an area and you are having issues with feral dogs you can of course deal with them by the bullet. However, and as cruel and inhumane this sounds, you can also poison them.

It’s not a nice thing, but this won’t be a nice world. Rat poison, antifreeze, or nearly any other commercial poison can kill a dog. This is to be a last resort though, and only used when animals are threatening you and your family.

Odd Balls

Dogs are more than likely going to be the biggest domestic pet to be dangerous towards you.

However there are other animals you should be careful of.

Cats be certainly become diseased, and diseases like rabies have the potential to spread like wildfire in these situations, not to mention kill you!

Look at places like Florida, where I live. It’s an excellent natural environment for reptiles. We have a terrible problem with people purchasing reptiles, and underestimating how fast and how big they grow.

We have significant issues with pythons being released, so much so you can now hunt pythons in the Everglades.

Another species we have problems with is Nile Monitors, lizard who can weigh up to 30 pounds and have been known to eat cats. These aggressive lizards are being exterminated with shotguns.

A machete can handle most snakes, and even these lizards are simple to take down. However do not seek encounters with these creatures if they can be avoided. They snakes are non-venomous, but are fast and powerful. Those monitors have a nasty bite as well.

Wild Animals

If you live in a rural area, or plan to bug out to one, you already know the danger wild animals pose. However in a flood and hurricane situation even an urban environment can see an influx of dangerous critters.

Snakes are certainly an animal to be cautious with. The best advice for dealing with snakes is to avoid where they call home. Do not bed down near trees, especially fallen trees, avoid rock outcropping that the sun shines on, and even holes in the ground. Rattlesnakes will often bed down in gopher tortoise holes or similar animal dens. Never reach into a crevice you cannot see into, and avoid thick brush if possible.

Bears are obviously frightening animals, but are often non aggressive in nature unless they feel threatened, and especially if their cubs are threatened.

Most bears will avoid you as much as possible. However, when moving through the wilderness always hang your food high, and away from your camp.

Also if you take an animal like a deer for food, make sure you dispose of the remains far, far, and even farther away. Bears absolutely love a free meal, so do coyotes, mountain lions, wolves, and our wild dog friends. I would go as far as preparing, cooking and eating my food a good distance from my sleeping area as well.

When traveling through the wild, you need to carry a suitable weapon for dealing with animals in your area. If you live in bear country you probably want a substantially powerful weapon. These animals move fast and rounds like the 5.56 may not be enough medicine in an attack. A 12 gauge shotgun with slugs maybe just the ticket, so could a nice magnum revolver, or a good 10 mm automatic pistol.

Methods to Keep Animals Away

Once you’ve established a long term shelter in a SHTF situation, and you have an animal problem there are numerous methods of just keeping them away.

You can prep and store these supplies specifically for this purpose, or simply scavenge them if possible. These methods can be used to keep even the most harmless creatures out of your garden.

  • Mothballs: Dogs particularly hate the smell of mothballs, and they are quite effective at keeping snakes away.
  • Chilli Powder: Another method to keeping canine creatures away is cayenne pepper sprinkled around the yard. This old trick was used by slaves on the Underground Railroad.
  • White vinegar: Another hated smell by canines. The odd smells will keep a variety of animals away.
  • Human hair: Humans aren’t a natural prey for animals, sure they can be, but the scent of human hair can deter animals from your property.
  • Chicken wire: Strung across the ground is unnatural and not comfortable for wild animals, and can be an efficient fence for many critters. This may not prevent larger animals from crossing, but will stop deer, rabbits, and even diseased coyotes.
  • Bear mace: It works and it works well. My uncle has a good story regarding a bear shaking his tree stand until it got a quick dose of some bear mace.
  • A dog: A good domesticated dog can be a powerful survival tool. Dogs can act as a deterrent for other animals; their heightened senses can provide a valuable aid in detecting animals.

Have you got any tips on effectively avoiding or handling animals in a dangerous situation? Let me know in the comments below!


About Author

Travis Pike is a veteran Infantry Marine and a lifelong firearms enthusiast. He lives deep in the woods of North Florida, where he can shoot at his leisure. He has been hunting since he was 8 and has always enjoyed the outdoors. Travis is an NRA certified instructor and loves teaching others anything and everything about firearms. He splits time between writing, running a training course, and of course a 9 to 5 job. He is a vocal gun rights activist. When he’s not writing, shooting, or working he is often found sipping craft beer on his porch

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