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A Wilder View: What is predator instinct?

Posted at 12:11 PM, Dec 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-02 14:11:53-05

MISSOULA — We have all heard we aren't supposed to run away from a predator if we stumble upon them while recreating outside in Big Sky Country.

Living in Montana, we are surrounded by large predators and although encounters are rare, they still can occur.

In order to reduce potential encounters, we are told to not recreate during dawn and dusk when these predators are most active.

Meanwhile, in the unlikely occurrence that we do encounter them, one of the number one rules is to not turn your back and run.

Biologists explain that this is because when people are moving fast, they can simulate the appearance of prey.

Running can trigger a hunting instinct in the animal you're trying to get away from. In all predators, the prey drive usually follows an inevitable sequence -- search, stalk, chase, bite, and so on.

Levels of prey-drive can vary depending on the animal species, but it's always safer to be cautious.