Play dead with bears? Wrap poop? There are many myths about the outdoors – Greeley Tribune

You’re ready for your next hike, backpacking trip, or camping trip confident in your knowledge of the great outdoors. Right?

Not so fast. It turns out that some of what we think we know about wildlife, outdoor survival, campfires, mushrooms and more might be outdated or just plain wrong.

Jamie Siebrase, author of Mythbusting the Great Outdoors (Falcon Guides)

“Outdoor myths can harm the resources we love and treasure,” said Joseph Livingston, statewide public information manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “A good understanding of the outdoors is key to knowing how to protect these assets and keep you safe.”

In fact, there are so many misconceptions that Colorado author Jamie Siebrase wrote a book, Mythbusting the Great Outdoors: What’s True and What’s Not, published this month by Falcon Guides.

“As I tried to write about topics that would interest anyone in the country, I ended up including a lot of information relevant to exploring the Colorado wilderness, and many of my sources come from of Colorado,” Siebrase said. “I couldn’t believe how many outdoor myths there are!”

The book is divided into 13 themes: avalanches; the North Star (celestial navigation); cold weather and human health; mushroom; wolves; earthquake; campfire; foam (also includes navigation); poo; flash; cold weather survival; the Sharks; and bear.

Let’s see what you do and don’t know:

1. If you see a baby animal alone in the desert, should you save it? Myth: A baby animal suffers when it is alone and needs human help.

“If you see a baby animal on its own, don’t touch it and call your local wildlife office for instructions,” Livingston said. “It may seem counterintuitive to humans, but many wild animals leave their young alone for long periods of time.”

In fact, he explained, a baby deer is too slow for his mother to leave him alone in a safe place for most of the day while she feeds. A fawn has no scent, so it is unlikely to be detected by predators. But once a human touches it, a scent is left behind that makes the young animal a target and harder for the mother to find when she returns.

2. Should you eat raw mushrooms? Myth: Mushrooms have health benefits and are safe to collect and eat in the wild.

“A lot of mushroom myths have to do with safe preparation, and I busted a lot of those myths in the book,” Siebrase said. “One thing I learned and now practice regularly: never eat raw mushrooms, except truffles, as they are used in small amounts as a spice.”

Some mushrooms contain a carcinogen that evaporates when heated, and others can be contaminated with heat-sensitive bacteria.

3. Is it true that you should play dead with grizzlies and fight back with black bears?

“Spoiler alert: best practice is to observe each bear’s behavior and base your reaction on that,” Siebrase said. “This is explained in detail on several pages of the book.”

For the avid trail runner, black bear information was personal. “Since we have black bears here in Colorado and I spend a lot of time hiking and running on local trails, I was really interested in learning more about bear safety,” Siebrase said. . “Originally, I decided to bust the myth that hikers can’t wake hibernating bears, but they sure can.”

Mythbusting the Great Outdoors (Falcon Guides)
Mythbusting the Great Outdoors (Falcon Guides)

4. Can dogs just run off leash if they are well behaved? Myth: Some dogs don’t harm themselves, wildlife or natural resources while having fun on a hike.

“Letting your dog run off-leash puts other animals, your dog, and you at risk,” Livingston said. “Deer, elk and moose cannot tell the difference between their natural predators like coyotes and your dog. They can become very aggressive, especially when they have fawns, and have killed many curious pets.

Small dogs can fall prey to hawks, owls, and coyotes, and dogs of all sizes have been known to bring a pursuing large animal, such as a moose or bear, back to their owners. Rattlesnakes, porcupines, skunks and raccoons also pose risks to dogs.

“When recreating in wildlife habitats, please keep your dog on a 6-foot leash for your dog’s safety as well as yours,” he said.

5. Do you need a gun to protect yourself from lions and bears? Myth: Guns will save you from being hurt by a predator.

“Bear spray has been shown to be much more effective in deterring bears and mountain lions than firearms,” ​​Livingston said. “First, attacks on humans are very rare, so the chances of needing to use deterrents are low, especially if you’re bear-aware and remove scent attractants from your camp. Second, if you shoot a bear or mountain lion, they can still see and smell you. They now feel attacked and know exactly where you are. If you pepper spray them, you take away their sight and smell, so that they can’t see or smell where you are, giving you time to walk away safely.

6. Is it always necessary to carry out your own waste? According to Siebrase, “It’s a misconception that Leave No Trace wants people to wrap their own poo by collecting it in a plastic bag.”

While in some wilderness areas, the use of a “wag bag” (a specialized bag for human waste that contains chemicals to reduce odors) may be a requirement, Siebrase discovered talking with experts that digging a sufficient “pussy hole” (a small hole about 6-8 inches deep and at least 200 feet from any water source) is acceptable. The big no-no is to leave the waste on the surface. Trash in the hole – including toilet paper – will biodegrade without attracting wildlife or leaving a big mess for others to find.

Yet another myth busted: Hand sanitizer isn’t a reliable substitute for soap and water, Siebrase found. Her book recommends carrying a small amount of biodegradable dish soap.

For more advice, Livingston recommends the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website or one of its clinics that teach people how to recreate responsibly.

“Learning about wildlife and the outdoors is not only fun, but also gives you the knowledge and tools to serve as a steward of Colorado’s beautiful and vital natural resources,” Livingston said.

Comments are closed.