The two immediate concerns in any animal attack are whether the victim neededs medial attention and if the animal involved is still a threat. If the person needs to be treated, then handle the call as per the department's usual protocols.
Incidents involving dogs and cats are probably handled by the local animal control. Because of the concern for rabies, the animal at fault needs to be caught and quarantineed. Find out if the creature is still on the scene. If not, which way did it leave? Which direction was it last seen leaving? How long ago was the animal last spotted? Was the animal wounded?
What color was the animal? Was it a solid color, or was it multi-colored? In the case of wild cats, did it have a long tail or short (bobcats have short tails while mountain lions have long tails). Did the animal have a collar or tag in it's ear? This is important because wild animals may be identified by collars or tags. Black bears aren't always black (they can be light brown, brown, and cinnamon). When asking the size of a wild animal, give a comparison: for example, the bear was the size of a VW Bug.
The type of animal can determine which agency is ultimately responsible for the report. For example, in Nevada game animals are handled by the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) while animals with potential for rabies (raccoons, squirrels, coyotes) are handled by Wildlife Services (WS). Calls involving mustangs are handled by either the Brand Inspector or the BLM, depending upon location. That isn't to say that NDOW won't respond to in progress attacks by coyotes or the local animal control will refuse to respond to a raccoon in a house threatening a family. Mutual aid exists within agencies in public safety threats.
Before enjoying the outdoors, or when moving to a suburban or rural area, you should be aware of the native animals and what to do should you encounter one of them. In Nevada, NDOW has a nice website with information on local wildlife. In the site, tips are given on what to do when encountering a bear or mountain lion, the two state's two biggest predators.
NDOW Bear encounter recommendations:
- Give a bear plenty of room to pass, and it usually will.
- If a bear approaches you - Don’t run!
You should back away slowly, facing the bear and keeping it in sight. Don't look directly into a Bear's eyes.
- Make yourself look bigger by waving your arms and yelling.
- Make noise and show the bear it is unwelcome.
- Pick up children or put them on your shoulders.
- Remember, you can’t outrun a black bear! They are extremely fast running uphill, downhill, up a tree, or any other direction they decide to go.
- Warning signs of an attack include:
a steady glare; ears laid back; smacking of the jaws and stomping of the front feet.
- If the bear attacks, fight back with anything available. Throwing rocks or hitting a bear with large sticks has been effective in some cases.
- Carry bear pepper spray and know how to use it.
- Do Not Jog or Bike in areas known to have Mountain Lions or where lions have recently been seen. These activities are known to induce a mountain lions predatory instinct to attack. If these activities are undertaken it is recommended that the person be accompanied by a large breed dog.
- Go in groups and make plenty of noise to reduce your chances of surprising a lion, when you walk or hike in mountain lion country. A sturdy walking stick is a good idea; it can be used to ward off a lion.
- Keep children close to you and within your sight at all times. Talk with children about lions and teach them what to do if they meet one.
- Do not approach a Lion, especially one that is feeding or with kittens. Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
- Stay calm when you come upon a lion. Talk calmly yet firmly to it. Move slowly.
- Stop or back away slowly, if you can do it safely. Running may stimulate a lion's instinct to chase and attack. Face the lion and stand upright.
- Do all you can to appear larger. Raise your arms. Open your jacket if you are wearing one. If you have small children, protect them by picking them up so they won't panic and run.
- If the lion behaves aggressively, throw stones, branches or whatever you can get your hands on without crouching down or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly. Your goal is to convince the lion that you are NOT prey and that you may be a danger to the lion.
- Fight back if a lion attacks you. Lions have been driven away by prey that fights back. People have fought back with rocks, sticks, caps or jackets, garden tools and their bare hands successfully. Remain standing or try to get backup!
Have fun and stay safe out there!
State of Nevada Department of Wildlife
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