The temperatures are rising and many people are drawn to the forest for hiking. Hiking is a great way to relax, exercise and enjoy nature. In individual cases, however, it can be quite dangerous – you can find out here why this is the case and what smells have to do with it.
When the temperatures rise and the sun shines again, many people in Germany are drawn out into the woods. Caution is required there, especially in spring – and a good nose.
Regardless of whether it is a multi-day hike or a relaxed Sunday walk in the great outdoors. As soon as you get the smell of Maggi in your nose, you should turn back immediately.
If it smells like Maggi spice, then there’s probably a wild boar nearby. “Then take the same path you came from and increase the distance,” explains Jenifer Calvi from the German Wildlife Foundation.
The Maggi smell is caused by the sprouting herbs in the forest, explains wildlife biologist Konstantin Börner from the Berlin Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research to “InFranken”. The smell especially attracts wild boar. Where it smells like Maggi, wildlife is not far away – and the encounter can be particularly dangerous for hikers.
Above all, wild boar mothers, who often travel in groups with their young, can perceive people as a danger and react particularly aggressively. Forest visitors can encounter such families at any time of the year.
When hikers encounter such a wild animal, they should initially stand still, be quiet, or hide behind a tree. “Wild boars see very badly,” explains the German Game Reserve Association. Then the following applies: Observe the animal and slowly retreat in a different direction.
wild animal spotted? Don’t run!
If large animals or wild animals suddenly cross your path while hiking in the woods and fields, it can give you quite a fright. But running away isn’t always the best idea.
This is how you react correctly
It’s not a good idea to walk through the middle of a herd of cows, says Wiesenthal. Hikers should pass the cows quickly and at a sufficient distance. The American outdoor expert Rachel Levin also recommends keeping a distance of at least two meters and not standing still in her book “Cow Staring Prohibited! As the title suggests, cows don’t like direct eye contact.
“If you can look a cow in the eye, you’re definitely too close,” says animal keeper Christoph Gorniak from the Arche Warder livestock project in Schleswig-Holstein. And he warns: “If you walk towards cows, they feel pressured and open up Confrontation.”
Extreme caution is required when the cow has her calf nearby: “If you then have a dog in your arms, it’s your turn!”
Wolves usually keep their distance from humans. But during the mating season between February and March, the animals get closer to humans: “The wolves are sometimes a bit confused,” explains Wiesenthal.
Whoever encounters a wolf should not run away. Similar to dogs, wolves otherwise mistake humans for fleeing prey, explains Wiesenthal. Instead, you can defend yourself with a piece of wood.
It also helps show strength and make yourself big. “Stand up, clap your hands, shout loudly, be dominant,” advises Calvi. Anyone who has seen a wolf should always report this to the authorities, for example the police.
Anyone who unexpectedly encounters sheep should wait until the herd has passed. “Cyclists should definitely dismount and give the animals a wide berth,” recommends animal keeper Gorniak. One should behave naturally and confidently, not waving or yelling. “Loud noises make the animals panic.” If children want to pet the sheep, you should definitely stop them. “If the animals don’t like it, they just punch the child and throw it over the heap,” explains Gorniak.
Ever had to deal with rebellious seagulls on the beach or on the promenade? “You shouldn’t have a picnic near seagulls,” advises the Plön ornithologist Bernd Koop. They beg, but they don’t actually do anything to you.
Except for seagulls with a lot of tourist experience: They beg until you give them a few bites from the picnic. If not, they use the element of surprise and snatch a bag of French fries out of a child’s hand, says the expert.
However, caution should be exercised in the vicinity of breeding islands. “To defend their offspring, they make a lot of noise and try to impress intruders with nose dives,” explains Koop. But that only works for anxious people.
Here Wiesenthal gives the all-clear: “Lynxes are very shy. You should be happy if you see one at all.” Then the animals take flight of their own accord.
Deer are particularly dangerous during the rutting season from September to October. Then the following applies: keep your distance and retreat to a safe place, says Wiesenthal.
It’s best not to startle the animals in the first place, explains Calvi. It is important to leash the dogs! In this way, people can prevent the animals from being frightened and becoming dangerous.
Foxes are harmless as long as they are not sick. Rabies no longer exists in Germany, but some foxes suffer from mange mites, reports Wiesenthal. This disease is also contagious to humans, especially dogs.
So: keep your distance, back off and leash dogs. Diseased foxes can be recognized by the fact that their fur looks terrible and the animals are injured. The biologist advises informing the responsible hunter so that he takes care of the animal.
Raccoons only attack when they feel cornered. “Then a raccoon can bite, it hurts,” says Wiesenthal. His advice: people should not approach raccoons in the first place and under no circumstances should they block escape routes.
This article first appeared on FOCUS online.