Whether you're in a city or a remote mountain town, wildlife is never far in Colorado. Because of that reality, it's important to be prepared should a potentially dangerous animal encounter take place.
As a dog owner that lives next to a stretch of wildland, I'm very familiar with hearing rustles in brush during nighttime potty trips outside. Sure, the noises might be coming from a squirrel or rabbit, but I've also seen bears and bobcats in the area – no match for my small pup.
The potential for a problem had me searching for a solution for the sake of my dog's safety. Newly installed automatic lights didn't do much to deter wildlife and I had my doubts about being effective with bear spray unless an animal got very close – something I would prefer to avoid.
After trying a few different options, I finally found a tool that sends potential predators scrambling for the hills every time – a flashlight taser.
I know what you're thinking and no, I'm not suggesting you ever try to actually tase an animal. Use the device as a deterrent instead, allowing the startling spark and noise to do all of the work from a safe distance.
Amazon sells many varieties of this tool and I've found that VIPERTEK seems to deliver a consistent product at around $20 to $30. Most of their options switch between flashlight mode and taser mode and are generally rechargeable. I've found the flashlight set-up to be easy to maneuver and pack, also proving helpful when it comes to spotting animals in the brush.
Many non-lethal deterrents exist and it's not a bad idea to carry and know how to use more than one. A bear bell is as basic as it gets, but something more aggressive, like a taser or air horn, might be more effective if some sort of attack seems likely. Pepper spray or bear spray may also be an effective non-lethal way to deter an animal that's already charging (if deployed correctly), though it's better to scare the animal off before a charge takes place.
When it comes to more lethal safety options, some will also turn to a firearm for protection. While this is encouraged in some parts of the world where larger, more dangerous predators exist, it's typically not the recommendation in Colorado. Plus, it should be noted that shooting a gun effectively at a moving target while under pressure requires quite a bit of skill and is rarely a part of handgun training that most gun-owners undergo. Shooting a firearm without proper training is more likely to put others in the surrounding area at grave risk.
Doing your part to prevent a violent animal encounter is important for both your own safety and the safety of the animal. The flash and sound of a handheld taser device can be an effective means of spooking an animal before it decides to charge. Getting one that doubles as a flashlight means two tools for the price (and packing weight) of one.
Author's Note: While stun guns and tasers aren't legal everywhere, they are legal in Colorado, according to this article from Colorado Legal Defense Group. Tasers are dangerous defense tools and should be treated as such. These tools are not toys. Be aware of all current local rules prior to purchase and use, even in Colorado, as rules are subject to change.
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