Defending against animals and insects is as simple as finding a safe repelling method for both you and wildlife.
Whether you’re worried about big animals, such as grizzly bears and great whites, or smaller threats, such as mosquitoes and porcupines, the wilderness is full of creatures that often need to be avoided. These animals are intriguing, but are best enjoyed from a distance. That’s why these creative animal repellent methods and have been invented.
Here are safe-repelling methods to keep wild animals at arm’s length without harm.
If you want to know what it’s like to be hunted by a great white shark for days, ask Benoit Lecomte, the first person to swim across the Atlantic Ocean. During his 3,700-mile journey in 1998, a shark trailed him. Thanks to an invisible force field, however, Lecomte was able to avoid becoming lunch. The 40-foot sailboat that accompanied Lecomte not only supplied him with food and water, it provided him with something that undoubtedly saved his life: an electromagnetic pulse. The EMP animal repellent warded off the likes of great whites and other hungry pelagic predators. All sharks have sensitive electrical receptors called “Ampullae of Lorenzini” in their snouts. These receptors can sense electrical current from prey, but the EMP causes them to spasm, forcing the shark to flee.
Climbers who flock to the Bugaboo Mountains in Canada are often attracted by its breathtaking granite spires. Unfortunately, they have learned that there are things to watch out for besides threatening mountain weather. Even beyond the ever-present danger that comes along with scaling sheer cliffs thousands of feet tall, there is another, greater danger: porcupines. Adventurers have learned that the animals will invade their campsite while they are away climbing. Not wanting to have the little buggers devour their equipment and supplies, they have devised a safe way to keep them at bay: by wrapping their gear in chicken-wire fences. The climber in this video can be seen constructing this anti-porcupine animal repellent system at the 36-second mark.
Even bears have their weaknesses. As discussed in our feature on how to survive a bear attack, bear spray is invaluable to anyone out enjoying the wilderness who worries about ticking off 500 pounds of muscle, claw and teeth. Thankfully for anyone entering bears’ backcountry homes, using the spray is as simple as aim, point and spray. The liquid in the bear spray, which is derived a genus of spicy plants known as Capsicum, will help in repelling the bear. Bear spray is legal across the U.S. and is super-effective. More importantly, it’s safe. After a time of discomfort, coughing and sneezing, the bear will be just fine.
Mosquitoes carry disease and the bites on your skin and fiery bumps that can linger for a week. You can go the bug spray route, dousing yourself in strong chemicals that repel the bugs, though some people try to avoid using harsh substances on their skin. These chemicals also have a habit of finding their way into into eyes, mouths and possibly food. To avoid this, you can go the bug-net route, where you wear puffy articles of clothing to keep some space between you and them. Companies like Bugshirt make full lines of clothes, including socks, jackets, hats, hoods and shirts made of proboscis-proof fabric and netting. A more recent development is fully-fledged repellant clothes, like the Buzz Off line from Ex Officio, which utilizes fabric that contains chemicals that prevent bites. Ex Officio’s gear contains permethrin, a synthesized version of a substance found in Chrysanthemum plants. Permethrin doesn’t repel the bugs like DEET, but does kill the bugs on contact.
Swimmers who have braved shark-infested waters realized long ago that anything short of a steel cage wouldn’t protect them from the gigantic sharks below the surface. Swimmers who wanted to cross channels, seas and oceans, where the food chain was not in their favor, rely on steel. Swimmers like Diana Nyad, who has attempted unsuccessfully to swim from Cuba to Key West, Florida, which happens to be some of the world’s most shark-ridden seas, have taken to swimming inside of shark cages towed by boats. The cages are effective, no doubt, but have always come with a handful of complications. In high seas, swimmers can be slammed against the steel. Because the cage is towed by a boat, it creates a sort of eddy that relieves the swimmer of the need to fight a current. This has lead to objections that it gives swimmers an unfair advantage and can take away from the validity of ocean-crossing achievements. The swimmer in this video demonstrates the closeness with sharks that cage-free swimming brings. If you’re ever facing a last resort though, make sure you have our how to defend against a shark attack guide handy.
Let us know if you’ve used any other animal repellent or deterrent methods to stay safe in the wilderness. Check out our poisonous animal bite survival guide to know what to do in the event of animal attack.