Over July 4, sharks shut down New York beaches amid four apparent attacks off Long Island shores in two days.
Days earlier, in Porter, Maine, a 64-year-old woman punched a black bear Friday as the beast chased her dog out of woods behind her home.
And in South Carolina, a 69-year-old woman died July 4 after being attacked by an alligator as she walked her dog near a lagoon on Hilton Head Island. The victim’s body, which the gator had been “guarding,” was later recovered as officials removed the animal, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.
This most recent spate of animal attacks underscores the importance of knowing how to respond when encountering some of America’s wildlife, experts told The Post.
Here’s what you need to know:
Most human-involved incidents with animals, including sharks can be prevented altogether, National Park Service spokeswoman Allyson Gantt told The Post. For starters, don’t swim alone — since sharks more often attack solitary targets — and avoid wearing jewelry, as the refracted light can resemble fish.
But if the worst-case scenario occurs and an attack appears imminent, stay upright in the water, Gantt said.
“You want to look large, you want to be unattractive, so one way you can be unattractive to a predator is to look bigger than they are,” Gantt said. “The other thing is keep yourself vertical. Tread water while not making a lot of splashing, and the vertical nature confuses them.”
If a shark still appears ready to bite, “rapping them on top of the head” is the best last-ditch defense, Gantt said. Poking the animal’s eyes, scratching its gills or “anything else to cause it discomfort” also works.
“You want them to open their jaws and release you,” Gantt said.
The best way to avoid being seriously injured by a brown or black bear is to simply stay away and “enjoy wildlife from a distance,” Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife spokesman Mark Latti told The Post.
Kelly’s “head on” confrontation in Maine ended with a bite to her right wrist as the bear scampered back into the timber. Her dog wasn’t hurt, but the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife advised against her response during the “provoked” attack.
“Let the bear go on its way — generally it will,” Latti said. “If it’s not really moving, quietly turn and walk away, back away. Keep your eyes on the bear, but walk away.”
Avoid making direct eye contact as well, but if the beast does attack, hold your ground and appear as large as possible, he advised.
“And make noises,” he said. “Clap your hands over your head, scream and yell, wave your arms — do things to try and scare the bear.”
Running away won’t do any good, as bears can run about 30 mph, and black bears can climb trees, Latti said.
Black bears often “bluff attack,” running up to potential prey before stopping and snapping their jaws in a show of force. But fighting back can provoke the animal and make matters worse.
“It’s a wild animal, there’s no predicting how it’s going to react,” he said. “Keep your distance. If you see a bear, go the other way.”
“And if you are attacked, fight back with whatever you can,” Latti said.
Much like with sharks, the key to surviving an alligator or crocodile attack is to stay as vertical as possible, Gantt said.
At Everglades National Park in Florida, where roughly 1.3 million alligators live statewide, visitors are advised to stay at least 15 feet away from gators and crocodiles, especially in murky water and at dusk and dawn.
“Even if they appear to be doing nothing, like basking in the sun, they have very quick reflexes and can react very fast,” she said.
But fighting back is the way to go if an alligator chomps down. A well-timed blow to the head or thumb in the animal’s eye may get its much-needed “attention,” Gantt said.
Wolves and coyotes
To survive encounters with coyotes and wolves, Latti suggested to avoid cornering them — and reverse direction if necessary. He also recommended people “make noise and look large” upon seeing either canine.
“More than likely, they’re going to leave,” Latti said.
But if they don’t, stand your ground and fight back if absolutely necessary, using anything within reach, like a rock or stick, to defend yourself, he said.
“Make yourself as large as you can,” Latti said. “Scream loudly, clap — anything you can do to spook it off.”
Making the decision to fighting back, however, can lead to unexpected outcomes.
“It’s a wild animal,” Latti said. “There’s no predicting how it’s going to react.”
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