Lions and Tigers and Bears… Oh my!

This guest post is by Victoria S and entry in our non-fiction writing contest.


Image courtesy stock.xchng user cde010

While as we all know that as preppers we should be preparing for all sorts of disasters, including the everyday disasters like losing a job or a snowstorm, there is an undeniable interest in the doomsday type events. With some effort, it’s not that difficult to be prepared for most common events. So, after you’re ready for that, most preppers at least think about some of the more “out there” scenarios that could bring society to a shuddering halt. This article isn’t going to be concerned with any one type of “doomsday” scenario; it will discuss something that could apply to all of them – wild animals.


By “wild” animals, we should include animals such as feral dogs, cats, cattle and other domesticated species who were either feral before the catastrophe or went feral afterwards. Also included should be animals such as rats, mice, and other pests that live in symbiosis with us people. Lastly, we should consider escapees from zoos, refugees, private ownership, and other “non-native” animals that might pose problems to our hypothetical survivors.

First – statistics on animal ownership in the U.S.:

According to the American Pet Products Association in 2012 (see ) there are 16.2 million birds, 86.4 million cats, 78.2 million dogs, 7.9 million horses, 13.0 million reptiles, and 16.0 million small animals (ferrets, etc).

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (see  for stats from 2010) the statistics are roughly similar, except they give only 3.5 million reptiles and no statistics on horses.

Note these statistics do not include animals that are already feral. Estimates for the number of feral dogs are impossible to find easily – neither the ASPCA or HUS have a guesstimate – and one scholarly study throws up its hands and says no estimates are known.

More traditional livestock statistics come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and state there are 97.8 million cattle in the U.S. as of July 2012. Hog populations are a bit more difficult to find – U.S. hog production is estimated to be 117.8 million  but that is production and not how many are alive at any one time. Feral hogs, which are expanding rapidly across the U.S., are estimated to be 5 million. Horse population in domestication is given above, but the BLM says there are 31,500 feral horses on BLM lands. Donkey numbers are unclear for domestic ownership, but the BLM says there are 6000 on public lands. Sheep number about 5.3 million in the United States. Llamas and alpacas number at least 100,000 but only llamas with some estimates for llamas in North America reaching 160,000 and perhaps as many as 100,000 alpacas.

Other animals are also in private hands. Foremost among these are bison, which are ranched across the U.S. The National Bison Association estimates there are 200,000 bison in private hands, and 20,000 wild ones in the U.S. The Defenders of Wildlife has different numbers – 500,000 in North America. Ostriches and emus accounted for about 11,000 ostriches and 6500 emus in 2007 (I couldn’t find more recent data easily). Other game animals are also raised on farms – especially deer and elk, but statistics on the number of animals held by ranches is hard to come by.

Deer in this case includes the native whitetail and mule deer but also caribou, axis deer, fallow deer, red deer, and sika deer as well as more exotic varieties. Of those, there are free-ranging (i.e. escaped) populations of axis, fallow, and sika deer in the United States. Other game animals have also established themselves in the wild – with the gemsbuck in New Mexico, nilgai and Barbary sheep in Texas.

There are large numbers of a variety of antelope and other grazing animals resident on game ranches throughout the United States, and estimates of their numbers and what species are represented are hard to come by see this page for some examples but not an exhaustive list. This doesn’t count the numbers of large non-carnivores owned by zoos or circuses throughout the U.S. – for example, the Ringling Brothers circus has an elephant breeding facility in Florida.

Besides the grazing animals, there are also a number of other animals in private hands in the U.S. Tigers are probably the most populous big game animal in private hands in the U.S. Estimates of their numbers range from 5000 to 10,000 . Estimates for other types include 15,000 total big cats, 15,000 primates, 2000 bears and 1000 canids. These numbers, of course, don’t include zoos. Luckily no large carnivores or primates have established themselves as feral populations yet (there are small colonies of monkeys in Florida).

Besides these animals, we have our “native” species of wildlife – of which the big dangerous ones are bison, cougars, bears (black and grizzly – I’m ignoring Kodiak bears and other Alaskan wildlife for now), elk, moose, deer, bighorn sheep, wolves, coyotes, and caribou.

Short-term concerns following a black swan event:

Now that I’ve overwhelmed you with numbers … let’s think on what would happen if human society collapsed, for whatever reason. Say a pandemic hit and the population was halved or worse. Or an EMP? Or any other “black swan” event? Obviously, if hunger was a problem for people, a lot of wildlife and privately held animals are going to get eaten, but a number of them will probably be released by their owners and left to fend for themselves. Which animals would prove the most dangerous right after the event? 5 years after? 25 after?

Likely, the most dangerous animals immediately after a black swan event would be feral dog packs followed by any domesticated pigs let loose and any feral hogs. Neither of these animals will be afraid of humans and if there are corpses available, they will both freely eat human flesh. Unless you live near a game ranch, a zoo, or a private owner of big cats, it’s most likely that you’ll be facing dog packs and sounders of pigs as your main wildlife problems. Don’t discount them – pigs will not only attack people but they are incredibly destructive of forests, farms, and gardens. They are also dangerous because they often will charge someone shooting at them and the feral ones are difficult to kill. You can find out if you have feral populations near you here.

Feral hogs are already a problem in the United States, especially in the south. Combine that with any escapees and there is a ready population of animals to expand quickly and fill empty spaces. Hogs can double their numbers in as little as four months, if conditions are good. After a black swan event, doubling of feral hog numbers in a year could very easily happen.

As for dogs, obviously the little house pets won’t be that much of a concern, but anything from about cocker spaniel size on up can and will be a danger in a pack. Luckily, dogs are easier to kill than feral pigs. The main concern will be the large numbers of them and the fact that they can and will interbreed with coyotes, but that behavior is rare. Unfortunately, it’s less rare in cases of rapidly expanding coyote populations, such as would be expected after a black swan event.

To a lesser degree, other animals that are currently found in close proximity to people could pose a problem soon after a black swan event. Generally these will be coyotes and deer.

As for coyotes, they rarely hunt in packs, which makes them less dangerous to people but they are much more commonly found in close proximity to people than most other predators in the United States. If a black swan event occurs, coyotes will be right up there preying on livestock and making life difficult for humans. Luckily, they only breed once a year, so although they reproduce often, they don’t breed throughout the year like dogs or hogs.

Deer (speaking here of the white-tailed deer, we’ll discuss the more exotic species later), while not often dangerous to humans by attacks, are dangerous in that they damage crops and gardens. The white-tailed population in the United States is about 30 million, and is capable of doubling their numbers every two years. While certain black swan events would result in deer numbers falling from hunting, other black swan events would probably result in even greater numbers.

Other animals mentioned in the first part of this article would have a more limited effect, mainly only being a concern if you are near a concentration of them. If you live near a big cat refugee/rescue group, however, you may need to worry about being visited by tigers!

What should the prepper take away from this in regards to short term planning after a black swan event? My biggest concerns would be with controlling dog packs and hog sounders. Lesser concerns would be coyotes and deer, unless of course you happen to have a neighbor (within 100 miles, worst case) raising more exotic animals or you happen to be located close to a game park or a state or national park with reintroduced big game animals. (For more details on that sort of thing, see further down in the mid-term and long-term outlook sections)

Fencing will help with dogs, but hogs are quite capable of destroying most fencing. Deer fencing would need to be a bit higher than that against dogs, but it’s not that difficult to do. Coyotes are also kept out by fencing. Obviously, then, fencing gardens, yards, and livestock pens against animals is a good first step. Although fencing might keep some hogs away, it won’t completely keep them out. The best you can probably hope for is that hunting will keep the numbers down enough in your area to keep the damage within bounds and hope that natural predators come along to keep the piggies in line.

Besides the “big” animals (I’m including anything bigger than a mid-sized dog here), there is also the absolutely huge explosion that would occur among the “pest” animals. Those would be the mice, rats, roaches, and vermin that live in symbiosis with humans. If society broke down, all these vermin would have greatly expanded possibilities of population growth. The main concern with these animals is their capacity for spreading disease. A secondary concern is their habit of spoiling and stealing stored food.

The primary methods of handling these pests have always been trapping, using other animals to reduce their numbers, and poisons. After any black swan event, these techniques will remain important and special consideration should be given to taking in small abandoned pets that could help with these pests. Besides the typical cats and dogs (terriers were originally bred to hunt rats and other small vermin), consider ferrets as a possibility.

While I’ve never liked them as actual pets, they are effective at vermin reduction. One thing to remember, however, with using small animals for vermin hunting – you cannot just expect them to feed themselves. If at all possible, they will hunt better and more effectively if you feed them on top of what they catch. Anything you can spare will be more than repaid in pest elimination.

Unfortunately, pets won’t do much for roaches and other smaller insects. These will need to be either poisoned or trapped. Don’t forget to lay in a supply of things that can be used for this, as well as researching ways to create your own.

Medium term consequences:

Further out from a black swan event there are likely to even more wildlife problems. Obviously, if the human population goes down, the animal population will increase. Animals will return to areas that they have been pushed out of by humans. Animals that are currently in zoos or game parks, if released (either by human causes or through failure of fencing), will have a chance to establish themselves also. Within 5 years after a black swan event, a number of species of wildlife could very easily have come back enough to impinge on survivors’ lives.

For example, bison. We noted above that there are at least 200,000 bison in private rangelands. In the event of a black swan event, bison probably can release themselves. This doesn’t include the populations that are on national park lands that are currently controlled by capture/hunting. Population growth rates of close to 25% have been recorded for bison, meaning that they could theoretically double around every three or four years given good conditions. (The rates of 25% are from populations released into new favorable grazing grounds, thus closely approximating conditions after a black swan event.).

Defenders of Wildlife has a range map of bison that shows them spread across the western United States. (Another map from 2003) This doesn’t show any private herds (there is one not that far from my house, in fact, here in central Illinois) Within 5 years, assuming not much hunting (which, given the calibers that are required to hunt bison, is probably a safe assumption!) there could be close to a million bison roaming North America.

Remember that bison are 6 to 12 feet long, stand 5 to 6 feet tall and weigh anywhere from 700 to 2200 pounds, with exceptional bulls reaching 2800 pounds. They are also capable of running as fast as 40 miles per hour and will charge humans if bothered (not just threatened!). Killing bison is just more difficult than killing deer or smaller animals, and typically requires a higher caliber rifle than most people own.

Given that constraint, I think it’s clear that within 5 to 10 years after any catastrophic event that might reduce the human population by over 50%, the bison population would probably approach a million, if not more, still only a fraction of the 20 to 30 million that once lived in North America, but still enough to provide a danger to humans.

Feral cattle would also pose a danger in some situations, along with exploding populations of deer and other native animals. Two predators would have a good chance of establishing themselves through North America within 10 years after a black swan event. One is already quite widespread and would likely expand more, the black bear. The other is the cougar, which wanders greatly and still exists across the United States.

The cougar population in Southern Florida could expand northwards (although since it’s starting from a population of about 100 individuals, that would be slow). The western population of 30,000 or so could expand eastward and any in Canada would likely expand southward. They do not have the explosive growth in numbers that wolves or herbivores boast, but they make up for it in their large range and the dispersion that young animals undergo to find new range. Given the right conditions, it would be not difficult to imagine cougars throughout the Midwest and Appalachians within 10 years of a black swan event.

Black bears already exist in the Ozarks and Appalachians, as well as the Northern Midwest and across the west. There are an estimated 600,000 in North America and 300,000 in the United States. Although not nearly as dangerous as grizzly bears, they do pose a danger to humans if provoked. Males are usually 150 to 300 pounds, with females a bit smaller. They mainly eat fruits, nuts, small animals and carrion, but can kill deer and other herbivore calves also. They would pose a danger to small livestock besides the danger they might pose if threatened. Black bears are primarily restricted to wooded areas, which means that the plains states will likely remain black bear free.

Otherwise, most of the new dangers in this time period would likely be regional. If you’re in the south, escaped reptiles and snakes could be a problem, while in the north wolves would start posing a danger to livestock. Southern swampy areas have their own dangers – with escaped snakes and other reptiles adding to the fun. Southern Florida and an island off South Carolina both have colonies of monkeys of various types. There are feral populations of exotic hoofed mammals all across Texas and New Mexico, which would probably expand gradually.

During this time period after a black swan event, the main dangers would remain the feral dogs and hogs, with bison and more exotic dangers thrown in depending on the region. The monkey concern would be not just damage to crops and gardens, but diseases that could spread from them to humans. Wolves would be a danger to livestock, added to the dogs and coyotes. Bison would pose a major danger to crops and gardens, as bison-proof fencing is expensive and difficult to construct. Obviously, no one wants to wake up to find a boa has slithered out from the nearby swamp and has taken up residence under their porch or chicken shed! One advantage of the increasing numbers of traditional predators would the their ability to take on the feral dog packs and the feral hog sounders.

Hunting would remain one of the primary methods of control during this period, along with fencing. Choosing calibers for hunting these game animals is a bit different than dealing with human predators. The best advice I’ve seen (although I’m happy to take other suggestions!) are from and and

As before, we need to briefly consider the “smaller” pests here. 5 to 10 years after a black swan event, not only will you be dealing with rats, mice and other crawly things, you’ll also have small carnivores preying on your livestock and birds and other small varmints raiding your crops and gardens. There shouldn’t be any surprises in exotic birds, but expect an explosion in numbers of things like mink, weasels, polecats, as well as any surviving feral cats and dogs. More exotic pets, such as ferrets and snakes, could also have established themselves and start preying on small livestock.

Birds can be dealt with by hunting (slingshots would be excellent for this!) and netting over trees and gardens. Small varmints can also be dealt with by hunting, but any small dogs or cats will also help with eliminating them when found. Remember again to feed your helper animals – they will repay it by increased hunting efficiency. Traps and poison will also work, but need to be balanced against the risk of poisoning small pets and children or catching them in traps.

Long-term consequences:

These would only likely show up 25 years or more past a black swan event. This is where things get a bit more difficult to predict, as it would depend a lot on what animals manage to actually establish themselves in the wild. Conceivably it’s possible that any animal that is in a zoo or wildlife park could establish itself in North America. Much more likely, however, is the expansion of native species or already established exotic species. Most of these would be herbivores but the expansion of range of cougars and black bears would continue, and be joined by the expansion of the range of grizzly bears.

Grizzly bears are now present in the western United States and Canada, but they used to range throughout North America including the Great Plains and as far east as Ohio (see Grizzlies are dangerous animals and not at all afraid of humans or large game. Historically they would hunt bison calves as well as elk, moose and caribou, so they would have no problems taking on humans (and winning!).

Wolves would also spread widely across North America, as their historic range was throughout the continent. Bobcat and lynx would likely have expanded their population enough to be noticeable once more, although they don’t pose much threat to humans themselves. Their damage would mainly be to livestock or possibly small children.

Elk and moose would join the native deer population explosion. There are 700,000 or more elk in the Rocky Mountains, and there are introduced populations in Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, along with Nebraska and Pennsylvania. Moose are present in northern New England and the northern Midwest, and would spread slowly to suitable habitats. Both of these animals can be dangerous to humans if provoked, but would be mainly of concern due to crop damage. Luckily, they are less likely to live near humans than deer, so would be of less concern. Hunting them, however, takes a bigger gun than hunting deer and that should be borne in mind. Horses would also have established themselves out on the great plains once more, but they are not forest-dwelling species, although there were mustangs east of the Mississippi prior to the westward expansion of the United States, it’s not clear if they actually bred there in great numbers or if they were mostly escapees that bred with occasional wanderers. This would likely continue to be the case for horses – occasional pockets of breeding animals in the eastern part of the continent with larger populations on the plains and the western coast.

Smaller herbivores are of less concern. Caribou could spread to the upper Midwest and the upper Rocky Mountains as well as Maine, as historically they were found in those areas. Besides the native deer, there are a number of introduced species that could spread across the continent – likely fallow deer and red deer, both of which are native to cooler climates. Fallow deer have already established themselves in parts of western North America and could spread. There are a number of antelope that could also spread, either locally or across the Great Plains. Luckily, most of these are small enough that they pose little more danger to humans than the native deer and can be treated as whitetails for most purposes.

Exotic herbivores such as elephants and Cape buffalo could be an extreme danger to humans and their crops, but luckily, they do not appear to be present in such numbers or concentrations in North America that they stand a good chance of establishing themselves after a black swan event. Nor, do they like the cooler temperatures that hold true for much of the United States. This is a good thing, because I’d really rather not face a bull elephant in must, thank you very much. However, as I remarked above, there do exist a couple of places breeding elephants in the United States, and given the long life spans, it’s possible they might be able to locally establish themselves. There are also a couple of ranches in Texas that offer Cape buffalo hunts (along with an amazing number of other things – yikes!) so that would be a “possible” but not likely thing. Rhinos do not appear to be present in any sort of large numbers in North America, so the main worry would be any that were released from zoos. Their habitat requirements, like elephants, are not an exact fit with most of the United States, luckily, so the chances of them roaming the Great Plains isn’t that high. Zebras, Przewalski’s horses, Bongos, Kudus, Wildebeests, Yaks, Impalas, Elands, and other more exotic animals are also present on numerous game ranches and could easily establish themselves on the Great Plains.

Carnivores, on the other hand, could be a problem. We mentioned above the guesstimates of the number of big cats that are in private hands in the United States. Once again, like with the elephants, the problem is going to be concentrations of them, not the numbers themselves. Most reputable big cat rescue organizations neuter the males they rescue, which would prevent any animals that were either released or escaped from that sort of situation reproducing. However, most zoos and private breeders obviously do not fix their animals, and it’s the private breeders that would likely provide the numbers that would have the best chance of establishing populations in the wild after a black swan event. From my reading and research, the mostly likely carnivores would be tigers, followed by lions, and then you get into the “who knows, anything goes” territory. If I had to bet on any carnivores establishing themselves in the U.S. after a black swan event, I’d go with tigers as the most likely, followed by lions. Cheetahs are harder to breed in captivity, and leopards have never quite caught on with private owners, so they would appear to stand less of a chance. Jackals have never been considered a “game animal” so their chances of establishing a population would depend on how many were released and where. This would be the case for most zoo animals – and their chances would not be good, as most zoos don’t have large numbers of carnivores for breeding purposes.


So, what should we take away from this exercise is “what if”? First – the most and biggest danger is likely to be from the most familiar animals – dogs, pigs, deer, and coyotes – especially in the short term. Most of these can be managed by fencing and hunting. Your rifle needs won’t likely be much bigger than what you’d need to handle human nuisances. Obviously, fencing your garden and yard isn’t a bad idea at all. And it will pay off even if a black swan event never happens – as it’ll still work to keep out deer and coyotes and feral dogs from your property.

Longer term, however, it wouldn’t hurt to have larger caliber rifles and bullets in order to deal with native predators as well as native herbivores. Luckily, anything that will deal with bison will also deal with any of the large carnivores that might be able to establish themselves. Check around and see what calibers and ammunition are recommended for various large game animals and consider picking up at least one rifle that can handle that as well as reloading equipment for those calibers. Picking up a cheap book on commonly encountered wild game park animals wouldn’t hurt either. Also, research if there are any large zoos, game parks, wildlife refuges, or private breeders near you or your retreat location, so you can be prepared for that sort of problem. If you live in a climate that would be congenial to large reptiles that are commonly kept as pets (yes, I’m thinking the python/constrictor people here!) – know what to look for as far as the dangerous snakes that might be let go in a collapse situation (and keep a big machete sharpened!).

Don’t forget the small vermin too – they’d likely undergo a large population explosion, and will need to be combated also. Traps, poison, nets, and the usage of small animals as free-ranging hunters should help control the vermin. Consider learning how to use a slingshot or sling to help control these small pests without having to use guns and ammunition.

This contest will end on December 16 2012 – prizes include:

Well what are you waiting for – email your entries today. But please read the rules first… Yes

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. Nice article, Victoria S. You covered alot of areas that need to be given some consideration. I have been prepping for emergencies, disasters, etc. but really hadn’t thought about contending with the wildlife that may result !

  2. The Last American says:

    Very good. Well written and much food for thought. Each time that there is a Hurricane, some folks just dump there animals to fend for themselves.

    About 10 years ago I was hunting down in Florida in a State game area when I happen upon 4 “wild” Emus running through the palmettos. From what my Buddy and I could figure out, someone tried to raise them for the meat, failed, and just turned them loose on State land.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Was once chased by an emu while living in Australia.
      Very embarrassing.
      Apparently they can be very aggressive at times.
      Who knew….?

  3. SurvivorDan says:

    Interesting and valid concerns.
    I might have missed it in the article but coyotes are still a great danger to small children. And deer can be a serious menace if you have vehicles up and running again at even medium speeds. Deer population explosions in several states have caused large increases in deer/vehicle collisions.

    I have a 45-70 guide gun and it will stop any animal in North America albeit at relatively close range (250 yd or less). But it is small and light weight so easy to tote around (better than lugging a Sig 50!) . In the spring, I carry it hiking in bear country. It comforts me and my dog….

    Good article Victoria. Shows a lot of research and thought went into it.
    Thanks for your work and sharing.

    • Survivor Dan. I think that the 45-70 is an excellent choice. With modern ammunition I think that you are set.I have Bison elk and bears in my area.I also have some criminal pot growers that the 45-70 would work well on if need be.

      • SurvivorDan says:

        For the criminal pot growers – a club will suffice.
        Just bludgeon them when they are stoned. And if so inclined……take their pot. For medicinal purposes.

        • georgeislearning says:

          “for medicinal purposes” lol

          come on lets just get high ffs

          • Those pot growers can be very violent.They also sometimes set booby traps and hire armed guards who are usaly,ta dah illegal migrants

            • SurvivorDan says:

              Very true alexsteve and shouldn’t have been so flip about it. As an ex-LEO I would like to say for the uninitiated that pot growers are often very VERY serious people who will kill you for accidentally stumbling onto their crops.
              A lot of money can be involved. More than enough for the criminals to kill your entire hiking party.
              If you are a pot fan and you stumble onto a pot farm…….FLEE!!!!!!!
              Some things I should not joke about. Sorry.
              And thanks for the reminder axel.

            • Tis the plight of those living in the “emerald triangle” of Kalifornia. It was the reason we put up a series of fences, including the “shocking” kind, many many motion lights and one hell of an expensive camera system. Also “fixed” the trail up the mountain so the only way in is a hike, no cars, not m/c’s………..many surprises for tires and such.

      • SD:

        I have several loads for mine. Hunting I usually use bullets in the 350 gr range. I found a guy who cast a half jacket spitzer, but it only works in a single shot. 350 gr jacketed soft points work good.

        I have one box of Garrett Hammerheads in 540 gr +p++++ rounds (velocity is around 1800 fps). They work in the guide guns, but I’d have a Limb Saver recoil pad put on it. Otherwise, plan to have your dentures adjusted afterwards.

        FYI; the Hammerhead is the only round I’ve had a recoil issue with. Standard factory ammo only pushes versus kicks.

        • SurvivorDan says:

          Thanks for the tip JP:
          I carry some nasty heavy Buffalo rds that hit like a sledge hammer but drop 30-36 inches at 200 yards! Been experimenting with LEVERevolution 250 grain rounds. Much flatter trajectory and zippier but not sure if they are better for my purposes.
          I had some slightly heavier rds than the Buffalo but they didn’t clock at 1800. I think they were 405 gr.
          Garret Hammerhead 540gr +p++++ and 1800 fps, eh?
          That sounds intriguing….

          If a 540 gr hot load doesn’t do it then I can always commit seppuku with my 45LC before the bear can eat me. 😉

    • SD:

      Check these out for your Guide Gun:

      “Make things fall down!”

      • SurvivorDan says:

        Wow! (Currently unavailable though.)
        Have to get some and experiment. I have shotguns with 00 for close in dirty work, but this could be something to have for special circumstances when I only have the guide gun with me.

    • Agreed Dan.

      If my M4 won’t stop it, my M1a with 7.62×51 will. I fear no animal, bring on the Grizzly and I’ll dump 20 rounds of 150 grain into it.

      Good article though.


      • BullDogBeau says:


        In Iraq there are wild scavanging dogs everywhere. We had to keep them away from our K-9 dogs (I’m not a handler) or the K-9 would be quarantined and sometimes put down.

        First time I had to do this I used my M4. It took over 6 rounds to stop his advance and it was close to being a bad day for the handler’s hound. The handler told me to use my 9mm next time that it works much faster to stop the dogs. Sure enough it did, 1 hit and it stopped turned around to run away and finally dropped.

        I would have to say it’s more of the diameter of the round and the “thud” of the hit that stopped him. I would assume this would work the same on coyotes etc. the force of the hit sent the signal of danger faster than 5.56.

        Thought I would share,

  4. SurvivorDan says:

    For the experienced hunter who will be compelled to opine that a 45-70 round can reach out a lot further than 250 yards……….I can only hit a large rampaging barn further out than that without optics ( No scope or ladder sight on my little trail buddy).

    • SD:
      I have several had 45-70’s, levers and single shots. I’ve had people tell me that these are great long range guns, because they have shoots that compete out to 1,000 yards. I agree with them but tell them there is a vast difference between where you aim at 950 and 1,000 yards. At over 250 you don’t shoot at things with the 45-70, you lob rounds in on them.

      I still plan on taking my 3 band 1974 Shiloh Sharps out to hunt antelope. The only problem is I think they might out walk the round at 400+ yards (I may just stick with the 257 Weatherby).

      • SurvivorDan says:

        1000 yards! Maybe the 45-100.
        Lob rounds at them! Indeed!

        The Weatherby sounds like the right tool.

        • SurvivorDan says:

          Again – 1000 yards with a 45-70: Those shooters if traditionalists must have ladder sights that look like little foot rulers! Definitely a mortar technique. Lol.

  5. Nice article. Living in the Montana mountains, we already encounter many of the larger animals and the issues with them. The problems with them will be due in large part to the time it takes the human population to diminish significantly. Elk and Moose reproduce slowly; and Bison are a “plains” animal, so we won’t have that issue. Cattle will be under attack by coyotes, dogs, and man, so again it will be a while before the start to seen in significant numbers.
    Coyotes require that 70% of the population be “culled” every year to keep the numbers stable. This will be an issue with a significantly reduced human population.
    Dogs and cats are my primary concern. We already have people who simply let there’s roam and “fend for themselves”. Dogs will quickly “pack up” and become a real problem. Cats will bred significantly, and carry small vermin and disease. I’ve seen the feral cat problem in Hawaii; many people get hurt every year because they try to treat the feral ones as pets.

    You article is very good at increasing awareness of potential problems. Each area of the country will have it’s issues. I feel that those areas that have a lot of hunters will see their “game” numbers explode. If you have a lot of “road kill”, that will change things too.

    Eventually the wild animal situation will level out at what the system can support, but there will be a significant explosion of predators in the first few years.

    Thank you for the time you spent putting this together. It was obviously significant.

  6. Hunker-Down says:

    Nice article. Thanks for giving us another avenue of thought in our preparation activities.
    After a few years of no tractors tearing up the topsoil, trees will once again cover large areas of today’s farmland. Creatures like wolf and bear will find their habitat greatly expanded. Areas where buffalo congregate will remain open grassland.

  7. Thomas T. Tinker says:

    My Dear Lady… I have the feeling that in a worst case event I.. We.. would be down a few pegs in the food chain. In a simple calamity I hope to Gawd the hogs don’t get loose.

    This was a good Read Ma-am!

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Only a few hunters and those who live in bear country pay any heed to the potential danger.

      I always thought that really being a peg or two down in the food chain might make folks more alert to their surroundings than they are now.

      A little occasional peril makes the peaceful relaxed moments of life even sweeter.

      • SurvivorDan,
        I recently watched a show on the History Channel about why humans are afraid of the dark. Is it learned or instinctive or a little of both. One of the reason cited was that early man was indeed prey and understood that fact. In India, some number of humans is eaten by Tigers every year, and in Africa, where the Maasai build walls of thorny trees around their villages, and warriors as young as 13 patrol the perimeter armed with only spears and clubs to attempt to ward off lions. These villagers share the top of the food chain with the lions and they completely understand that they are not only predators; but, also prey. I suspect that gives you a much different perspective on life.

        • SurvivorDan says:

          OP: Whilst camping in mountain lion country, I have TFMrsSurvivorDan sleep near the tent entrance so I can get to my bangstick while the lion is busy dragging her off. Thank God TFMrsSD is a game one.
          Seriously, a mountain lion or more likely, a bear can surprise you in your tent/shelter and so I usually have my 90 lb pit along for company.

          “These villagers share the top of the food chain with the lions and they completely understand that they are not only predators; but, also prey. I suspect that gives you a much different perspective on life.” OP

          As all soldiers and LEOs well know.
          Makes us really appreciate when predators, two legged included, are at a minimum threat level and life is good.

          • SD,
            There’s the old story/joke about a Cougar headed into a cam where two friends are camping. One friend grabs a large stick to use as a club and the other quickly puts on his tennis shoes. The first asks the second, “What are you doing? You can’t outrun a Cougar”. The second replies, “I don’t need to out run the Cougar. I only need to out run you”.
            LOL, how true.

            • SurvivorDan says:

              Lol. At my age I’ll have to stand my ground and give the cougar some indigestion, one way or another. I’m too slow now.

      • village idiot says:

        Dan and OP, I read somewhere that in the past wolf packs killed more people in Europe and parts of Asia than all the other predators combined. I can understand how that could be true as it would be impossible for a person to defend himself against a pack of wolves. I had an incident with a pack of coyotes a few years ago, and after that I never go in the woods without a pistol. In that incident a friend had hauled deer guts into a field I was having to walk across, and when I got off my stand after dark and was walking back to my 4-wheeler I stumbled on these coyotes feeding on the deer. I had 3 .270 cartridges in a scoped rifle. Not good, but I did live to tell about it.

  8. victoria, very fact filled article and thought provoking. one of those thoughts however is that you have almost completely discounted human predation on the animal world. in the absense of laws and courts, man goes back to his animal self. the scale of events you envision would undoubtedly interupt food distribution as well. man will as a neccessity decimate the animal population. this is proven out by the great depression. people wiped out whole species and nearly wiped out many more. at the oldest known hunt club in my state, they wrote a note on the wall of the greatest deed of the hunting year. one year in the 30’s that note read: “saw deer track, put dog on it”. and so it was even into the 70’s that you could hunt deer all season and not even find a track. now of course i can’t walk out to the car in the drive without dodging deer. my dog doesn’t bother to chase them anymore. old timers tell of celebrations over bagging a groundhog for dinner even….. don’t take this as a personal attack in any way, please. i wholeheartedly agree with your concerns with non-native, non-game species exploding populations, and your research is impeccable. nightmares of cobras in virginia woods will surely trouble my sleep for some time to come. (frankly i wish they would ban dangerous/poisonous pets,especially non-natives)….. your point is well made and taken. again i don’t mean to attack or offend in any way. thanks for posting.

    • recoveringidiot says:

      Humans will overcome and eat the best and worst of the animal kingdom. They may get a few of us but we will eventually win (or lose, going hungry after killing everything in sight).

  9. GoneWithTheWind says:

    Five sightings of mountain lions near where I live in the last week alone. The cold weather and lack of food bring them down from the mountains every winter. When I step outside to get firewood I always look around for wild animals. I see cougar tracks in the snow sometimes when I walk in the woods near home.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Cougar tracks? That would pucker one up on the way to the outhouse. 😉

      • SurvivorDan says:

        “Honey! Where’s the TP and my guide gun?”

      • SD:

        “Never mind the TP. Bring me new pants!”

        • laughted til I hurt!!! Y’ll are too much. WE are over run by deer now, but a few more months, they will be down a bit…too much unemployment here. KNow many who hunt regular.
          I saw Bob- cats mentioned, and they are here now, but those panthers we’ve had close for years, we haven’t been walking late at night for since my big girl was an infant.I just have a problem with being stalked.
          Lot’s of work in this article..
          Lots to think about..I just wish we could find
          a a couple of those young sows to make pets out of..Mama piggy raises….sweet piggy, piggy ; ham, bacon, side meat… what wonderful names and lots of good sweet (meat…ie..UH -H-H-H babies)..I can see em’ lining up to get their ears scratched til they get to about 260…280..

    • We see lion tracks every winter. Our neighbors who raise sheep loose half a dozen lambs every spring. A new born foal was attacked this summer. It survived because the owner saw it happen. And the fact that the mare was pounding the crap out of it. The DOW has removed 3 lions in the past year. We have been given rubber bullets for 12 guage by the game warden because you can get in big cocka doodie for killing one.
      Some neighbor kids were sleeping in their back yard this summer and a juvenile black bear joined them for a snack.
      We don’t let the kids play outside without dogs or adults.

      • Had a mountain lion in the yard last night – lingering smells from killing the pigs a few days back I guess. Wouldn’t have known about it ‘cept for the mule going crazy and waking me up.
        Sometimes I think a mule is the best watch-animal a person could ever want.

  10. Great Article! Now I am even more freaked out. A tiger would send me over the edge. I wonder how they taste? Mountain Lion tastes like the other~other white meat.
    Living in Colorado we have spent thousands on wildlife fencing around 5 arces. I could probably come up with a number closer to 10,000 than to 5,000 dollars if I was to look at receipts. We have spent 2 years working on them and still aren’t finished.
    We have bear, mountain lion. coyote, bobcat, lynx, fox, skunks, raccoons, feral dogs, domestic dogs, feral cats just for the predator starters. The DOW claims there are no wolves here, but I think they are full of it. We have mule deer, elk, cattle and horses to worry about also. Colorado is a free range state and we must fence animals out!
    My husband spent weeks preparing our pastures for reseeding. Tilling, smoothing, cutting back, installing irrigation, and then reseeding with $2000.00+ in seed on 23 acres. This is before the fencing was redone.
    The neighbors cattle herd got loose and spent the whole night milling around our pond and destroyed the entire pasture. The cattle owners were not liable for the damage. Though they gave us a steer for compensation, he still had to do all the work over again.
    I can’t tell you all the elk and deer damage that has been done without getting emotional.
    Our livelyhood and success growing food in a wildlife rich area depends not only on the fencing, but the dogs to patrol the area.
    Elk, deer and mountian lion can easily jump an eight foot fence. They may not feel like they can get out and do alot of damage while “stuck” inside. Deer fawns will destroy themselves on the outside of the fence if Mom and Auntie are inside. They will charge it, rake their faces and chests, get tangled up. A bear could plow right through if they wanted. Most likely a wild pig too, though we don’t have wild pigs. YET.
    A fox can scale a tall fence in 2.3 seconds. We have to use electric fencing also. We have 2- 30 mile solar chargers that run 2 strands of wire on the outside and two on the inside. The ones on the inside are to keep our animals from pressuring the fence too. We have poultry wire on the ground to keep the small predators from digging under. I have found skunk fur and claws stuck in the wire on the ground.
    The fence alone is not enough. We have two Pyrenees to patrol the perimeter. They are the best defense. A snarling barking barreling bullying 130 lb hunk of dog is a great defender, though they are not perfect either. I found doe caught in my big garden this fall. The dogs were napping on the porch. She caused alot of damage until we could get her out the gate.
    We have four outside cats that keep the vermin down. They even take out large prairie dogs. Which makes me worry about Plague, but nothing I can do about that. These cats are vicious killers. They leave me gifts by the door all the time.
    If you are strapped for money, and can’t buy the posts and fencing materials, invest in a 160.00 solar electric fence charger. Some white wire, and insulators. Lots of them. The electric fence is the most cost effective way to keep animals out IMHO.
    As to the bigger caliber guns for large game. We have hunted big game for decades using 30.06, 270, and I have killed elk with a 30-30. The smallest caliber you can hunt with here is a .243. I would not want to face a bear with less than a 357 magnum. I know folks that hunt mountain lion with dogs, a .270 and a .45 as a side arm. As to the buffalo, I know that they were almost hunted to extinction with a black powder and we use .50 cal ball for that here. I am assuming that was close to what they used then also. I think it would be wise to stay clear of buffalo at all costs unless you are hunting them. No matter what you are carrying.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Bigger and hard hitting is better for large predators. IMHO.
      I could terminate a grizzly with a 270 but he still might kill me before expiring.
      I’ll take your word on the buffalo as a ton of rampaging critter would be quite formidable. They look like they would be best hunted with a scope…..from far away.

      Never had to fence critters out. Had no idea what a complicated (and expensive) affair it can be. Thanks for the info.

      • SD:

        The wild bison I have encountered don’t start to get nervous until you get within 50-75 yards of them. Whack them with the 45-70! But bring friends to get it home; they are huge!

      • georgeislearning says:

        wonder what the weapon of choice was for killing the buffalo back in the cowboy days when we dam near killed every last one of em?

        • Mostly Sharps single shots with some others, also single shot.
          Calibers ran from 44 to 50 cals. In those days, there were many proprietory rounds, (sort of like the caliber explosion of the last 20-30 years) Against modern firearms, bison are only dangerous if you screw up. They’re too stupid to know they are being shot, and make a stand. Two or three buffalo hunters could kill hundreds pretty quick. Look it up.

          • georgeislearning & EthanP,

            Ethan is correct in that many cartridges were used; however, the most common “Buffalo Cartridge” was the 45-70 (or actually the 45-70-405 which describes a 45 caliber (actually .457 or .458) 405 grain weight bullet with 70 grains of black powder. The following link has a very interesting history on the cartridge:

            • SurvivorDan says:

              Ah! A ‘lumbering’, heavy, hard hitting bullet. Not little and ‘zippy’. Big heavy bullet for big game.

    • plague …and many other disease ‘s are carried by fleas..,ticks of all kinds,and mosquito’s. control these three… put up houses to attract birds or bats…use diatomaceous earth…use lime to control odors and flies..compost as much debri as leaves little place for the unwanted guests to hide/thrive.

      • Sw’t Tater,
        I think one of the things we all have (or should have) going for us, is a better understanding of disease vectors and science. Generally, no matter your religious persuasion, we don’t have the ignorant superstitions of the middle ages. Plague was carried by fleas, carried by rats that can be controlled by cats; except, cats were often thought of as carrying evil spirits and of being the “familiars” of witches and other practitioners of the occult, and because of that, cats were often killed en mass. This actually eliminated one of the best protections against rats and therefore the plague.

        We also understand that disease comes from unsanitary conditions which can be dealt with and not by demons or bad air.

        Finally, at least initially, we have drugs (like antibiotics) that are effective against many of these diseases.

        With proper training and precautions, we should all do much better with things like the plague than they did the first time around.

        • Unfortunately, in my area we have all the nasties. A young girl in our area contracted the Plague this summer. She became so ill, so fast that she was in the Childrens Hospital in ICU within 6 hours of getting the flea bite. She would have died within 8 hours. She contracted it while camping with her family. That frightens me because without testing in a SHTF situation, we would not know to dose with the proper antibiotic at the appropriate time or dosage.

          We have 2 dozen bat houses on the farm. We use diatomateous earth by the bucketful. We turn manures immediately into the soil daily. We keep all of shots currant on the family and the animals.

          I have had West Nile personally, six years ago. Along with the neighbors horse. LOL. I used Deet like crazy back then.
          But, my family hasn’t had it. I am sure you can imagine, after having it, how diligent I am about standing water and my family getting bit. I spend a better part of my summer making sure the mosquitoes are at a minimum. But, it only takes one tiny little bug, to really mess up your day. Even in this day and age.

    • Mama J? We did a whole lot to protect our gardens and such with some pretty important electric fencing. No deer, skunks, raccons or possums inside this year at all. Doubt it would do much but make a bear unhappy, as for cats, all we have seen so far since the whole system went up was a bob cat, and it was pretty funny when he stuck his nose out to explore the electrical wires.

      • Worrisome,
        What kind of fencing did you do? Mesh, webbing, wire and how tall? I am so glad it has helped your garden.
        We have a wildlife cameras that record in our garden and poutry pens. We also have night vision that we can use when it is the dark of the moon. It is hilarious to see animals get zapped. I really get a kick out of it. I am demented.
        I have seen bear get zapped on video, but not ours. They do squeal. If they wanted something bad enough, they can get through anything. I will be putting my bee hives in a heavy chain link cage on a concrete foundation. I have a friend who put her in hives an old school bus with the windows open and tack strips (with nails poking out) to keep the bears from climbing in.
        The deer figure it out and jump over. We watch a fox attempt the fence 4 times, getting zapped and still got over and in. The dogs ran him ragged and get got back out.
        When we had electric only I saw a doe belly crawl under the bottom strand. I didn’t know that was possible. Sometimes I want to give up. But, now I am on a mission!

        • I will pull out the paperwork and get you some names Mama J. I will send it to MD and ask him to forward it to ya.

  11. Fencing yards and gardens to keep wildlife, feral hogs, dogs and free ranging cattle is pretty much the standard in the western united states. In open range districts, it is the land owners responsibility to keep the cattle out, not the ranchers.

    This probable explosion of some feral populations of animals actually improves the possibility of survival in many locations. The early settlers in the east raised a lot of hogs some free-ranging and that smoked and cured meat kept a lot of people alive. Best brush up on the best breeds of dogs for handling hogs and how to train them.

    Excess amounts of feral dogs are already becoming a threat in failing cities like Detroit and many of the declining suburb. Unfortunately the only way to deal with them is destroy them when possible. Like it or not, dogs, cats etc are edible too.

  12. Great article! Thanks.
    The dog issue is a big one. We used to live in mining camps in Northern Canada and almost all the dogs were a step off wild. I remember stories of my father watching my mother slip and fall on the ice on the street as she came back with groceries and the fear as he watched the dogs start to rise and move towards her. It took three men with guns to get them to back down, even though she was back on her feet. Do not underestimate dogs – they do and will pack and if there is no readily available food they will take you out.

    • SurvivorDan says:

      Biggest real threat to me from critters was while walking through the desert and being trailed by a pack of wild dogs. I was unarmed (except for a pocket knife – weird circumstances prevailed). I had to improvise. Not a good situation to find yourself in.

      Oh…by the way…..they didn’t eat me.

  13. Excellent article! There is one glaring hole, though. You didn’t seem to give much consideration to poultry. On the plus side, they are the missing puzzle piece for controlling insect pests, and they’ll tear into small rodents, too, if they get the chance. On the minus side, feral one can destroy gardens too, and they can be far harder to fence out than deer or hogs.

  14. I think that feral cats, while not a direct threat, will be a problem to native small animals and birds. An environmental problem
    One thing not mentioned. If human population crashes dramaticly, many species may adapt to new environments. One example, the tiger. Found in steamy tropics->subarctic siberia. (Yes I know there different sub-species, but not that different. Camels and horses first evolved in North America.
    Elepants (mastedons) one ranged across the continant. It is quite possible they, among others could adapt.
    As for caliber; a 308-30/06 with propper bullet selection should prove adequate. African ivory hunters often hunted elephant with 6.5mm mannlicher rifles. Buffalo hunter used big calibers because they used low velocity black powder weapons. Today we have modern high velocity ammo. Makes a difference. If you must, I suppose a 338win mag or 375 H&H will do. But I loved this article.

  15. The odds of all this in the first 15 years of an event is slim. In 1929-1940 large and small game disappeared rather quickly. Many were thought to have been hunted to extinction but most have since returned from the dead. My grandpa (Indiana farmer) even told stories of eating field mice and how sweet the meat was. US population was around 33 million then. With 300 million people and 200 million guns there should not be much left by the time the human population dies off. Of course bugs and vermin will survive. As for feral pigs (I call them free range pigs) they will make it but I don’t expect Bison to. A lot of thought in your article giving me a lot to think about. Thank you

    • The US population in 1929-40 was about 100million+. She refers to a black swan event. A global pandemic could have black death/native American population die offs (50% or more in a short time). A global EMP event (Carringyon effect) would leave the 7 billion+ of us dependant on 1900 level agriculture. A population crash would likely result. In 1900 there were fewer than 2 billion people and famines were common.

      As to hunting out the wildlife. While it is likely, chances are that only the current hunters would be successful long term. Most of us would not be successful at it. The same holds true for most of us in an EOTWAWKI event. There’s a reason most people were dead before 60.

      There was a sign I saw in Shennandoa State Park once that said the parkland was bought up because it had been farmed and hunted out and could no longer support it’s population.

      • riverrider says:

        ethan, the gov wouldn’t lie to you either, i guess? it was far from either hunted or farmed out. many families were forced off their land that had been in the family for generations, some fought it out and were killed there. some holdouts even met their demise in the dark of night. there is still bad blood among some of the locals over it. they were dirt poor though, and the cash offered(a fraction of its worth) was too much to pass up for many. it still had thriving industries in lumber, ore, cattle, hogs and even bricks. thats where a lot of feral hogs came about. they were free range, feeding on the land most of the year until rounded up for the market or slaughter. better meat in my opinion…so don’t beleive the signs until you find out for yourself. and if 50% die off thats still 160 million folks that will kill what they need to survive. the famine in the u.s. would likely be worst in the eastern megatropolis. can’t say that would be a bad thing for the world to be frank. as far as current hunters being the only successful ones, well you’ll be amazed how quickly you will adapt. i know oldsters that bought 22lr bullets one round at a time because that was all they could pay for, and went home with something for the pot with it or went hungry. the real die-off will occur when we wipe out the animals.

        • Of course the govt lies. Loud and often. But as I understand it, the reason these people used “squirrel guns” was because there was nothing larger left to hunt. You dont shoot a rabbit or squirrel if you can bag a dear. I’ve been camping from Virginia to Nova Scotia. Shenendoa National Park is the only place I never saw a single ground animal. Anywhere else something would come for scraps. A squirrel, racoon, even bears. This was 1978. It may be different now.
          I do know that there are few, if anything, worse for the environment than large #s of feral hogs.

          And I still maintain that the people who will hunt successfully in this type of situation are the ones who hunt successfully now.

          I do enjoy other opinions and don’t claim to know everything.

          • EtanP,
            “And I still maintain that the people who will hunt successfully in this type of situation are the ones who hunt successfully now.”
            I absolutely concur. Hunting is a skill and like many others requires practice. You can buy the best gear, read all of the books and videos to gain knowledge, but the actual skill for nearly any subject comes from doing it, period.

            • village idiot says:

              OP, the one hunting skill I see most people lacking these days is just plain old patience. Most young people do not have any, and it hurts their success at hunting. When growing up I remember taking my lunch with me to the deer stand and staying all day. Now my sons are in by 10 am if they haven’t seen anything. The biggest buck I ever killed was taken at 10 minutes past noon when I was eating my ham sandwich. Back in 1986. And he’s looking at me as I type…kinda looking, anyway. He’s on the wall in my den.

            • its not rocket science. you learn or you die. hunger is the ultimate motivator. most folks don’t hunt now because they get easier food from the supermarket, they’re lazy. i don’t hunt now myself, but when i did i was good at it, and i trained myself as a youngster. i think the woods will be slap full of hunters when the time comes. we better pray they are successful, else they’ll be knockin on our doors rifle in hand…….. oh and they used squirrel guns for two reasons: thats all they had, and with no refrigeration you had to eat all you bagged that day, unless it was winter. yes, they hunted/will hunt daily, 365.

        • riverrider –
          The SNP website – click on the history link – actually has a fair assessment of the “buy-outs”. Not a complete picture but at least not a total gloss over either.

  16. Almost forgot, while also a different subspecies, lions once roamed southern Europe and the middle east. Climates can be quite cold. The lion might do well in the southern states.

    • riverrider says:

      again ,without laws to protect it, some redneck will be wearing the lion’s coat. that of course will be the fastest of the two rednecks. i’m sure gonna miss old bubba 🙂

  17. Petticoat Prepper says:


    This was an eye opening article for me! I’d never given any thoughts beyond hunting deer for additional food, and trapping mice and rats to keep them out.

    Having grown up on a farm raising beef and pork, I appreciate the remarks about pigs. Had I been a slower moving teenager I’d have probably lost my leg to one. As it was she only got my pant leg. I had to beat her off me with one of the many hammers we had hanging near each pen for quicky repairs. I kind of laughed at the thought of ferral hogs in Oregon until I clicked on the map! Had no idea.

    We do have bison in the area, a wild animal park in the southern part and the Portland zoo about an hour from us. I can see the ease with which animals could spread out and move now that you’ve pointed it out.

    Great, now I have a whole new relm of worry abouts! 😉 You did an awesome job on this article and opened my eyes to things I’d never considered.

  18. Good read…..I live in NE MN and we have all of the above critters here…..and Yes, they will multiply sooner rather then later after an event….up here people hunt black bear with .30-.30’s and bows….and of course larger calibers….so most here will be prepared if they have a good supply of ammo, and I doubt if most do because most are not preppers…..mught have a 20 round box or two, maybe 100 .22 rounds and a couple dozen arrows, which is not enough long term….city people will have a problem with most of those listed, but like buffalo…..they need LOTS of grazing room per animal if they don’t have humans feeding them….and woodlands are not conducive to that, so I don’t think bison will be a problem here…and deer…………….they are a staple here and will be more so after the event……….I don’t think we need be concerned they will overpopulate….dogs, cats, etc will be target practice and wild critters will exercise some control….me. I will rely on my crossbow and intelligence….crossbow for hunting and intelligence for keeping me from becoming complacent….I will be prepared…

    Lewis in MN

  19. Thats assuming of course that you can get ammo in a Black Swan situation over time….More likely over long periods you will be back to bows and traps with spears.

  20. M.D., I know about feral dogs not being afraid of people. I had a couple run-ins with them back in the 80’s out West while backpacking. The first time I was lucky to get to a tree in time before getting jumped by a pack of almost twenty mutts. All I had with me at the time was a 9-shot .22 pistol with one spare mag.
    After that, I went out and bought one of those evil, black, “assault pistols” the antigunners used to wet themselves over. It was TEC-9 Mini with one 10 round and 2 twenty round magazines. It added some weight to my load, but I was young and strong and the next time I dealt with feral dogs it turned out much differently. Not too accurate, but it didn’t have to be. ID the Alphas and zap ’em and the rest’ll back off long enough to get away.

  21. j.r. guerra in s. tx. says:

    Very good points made in the above post. My Grandfather, now long passed away, was a cattle rancher and worked with them all of his young life. He continued as an adult, working in town, but weekends, visiting his ranch and inspecting his cows during weekend. He ALWAYS carried a big bore handgun in the pens, a battered Colt .45 Peacemaker. This, along with a heavy cattle cane were his constant companions.

    He told me that as large as cattle were, they have the brains of an ice cub and could turn from docile to mean in a heartbeat, especially ‘Mama’ cows with calves. I never saw him use the handgun for a ‘permanent fix’, but he did say it had occured earlier and the handgun likely saved his life. Brahma bulls – they have attitude!

    There was a Discovery special on feral hogs sometime during this year, it definitely opened my eyes. They are big, mean, tough, smart and run in herds (sounds?) – a bad combination. They can truly cause some mayhem and in Europe, boars were often hunted down when they attacked humans.

    Big Cats (lions / tigers) – some folks keep them in the states, if things get bad, I can see their owners turning them loose instead of putting them down. Be awfully embarassing to be mauled by one of those and your last moments reading their pet tag “Hi – I’m Bobo. If you find me, please call Laverne at **** ‘ . . .

    Professional big cat hunters who had to follow up wounded large cats used buckshot – great for close range running game.

    Good post – a body does get to wondering.

    • LMAO! “Hi – I’m Bobo. If you find me, please call Laverne at **** ‘”
      Hahahaaaa! To funny. Especially if you lived to tell the story.

  22. georgeislearning says:

    We could capture those feral hogs, pen them up and then toss the dead looters in the pen as a means of getting rid of em. 🙂 As turbo tax timmy said ” never let a good disaster go to waste”

  23. Few and far between ………….think about how many people there are , and how many people will be going out anywhere to “hunt ” . How many firearms there are in the country and idiots that will be shooting at anything weather they can eat it or not , vs. the number of domestic and wild animals . This isnt a concern , but rather a tragedy .

  24. After the release of around 50 large cats, bears etc in Zanesville Ohio, I realized I’m only about 10 miles from a similar set up.

    I stocked up on heavy soft points in 30.06 and 308

    At Zanesville one Tiger was hit with 40, 223, and 7mm Rem mag. about 50 shots total before it went down, the lions averaged about 40 rounds each, it was pure hell for the deputies trying to stop them with Glocks

    • Alittle2late says:

      If your going to kill something before it kills you shoot it in the head. Dead brain dead body. Yes the target is smaller but that’s why we practice. The first shot may not penetrate but the second one will. I’m pretty sure if the first one doesn’t drop it you will have a very clear shot for the second one. I don’t hunt for trophy’s so one well placed head shot saves me alot of tracking and dragging.
      I know there are alot of people that disagree with this method. I was taught “One Shot One Kill”.
      This wasn’t an attack on your post just seemed like a good place to put my 2c.

    • Thats the problem ………..NOBODY private should by law be allowed to own them , as far as I’m concerned , if your not a regulated zoo ………….too bad ………get a dog !!!!!! this keeps happening over and over , and yet NO legislation .

    • Thats another peeve ! dont these goobers have tranquilizers !!!!!!! , they cant say they didnt know the animals were in their community ! I guess sucking down coffee and greasy cheeseburgers at the local speed trap is considered more important than planning ahead . Sorry about the rant but there is A LOT of stupidity on both sides of that !

      • Alittle2late says:

        Yes I agree completely. There should be very harsh consequences for selling/purchasing these animals. I love tigers but am smart enough to not try to domesticate one.

      • TR,
        Actually, in the Ohio case, tranquilizers were used, but they only agitated the animals and caused them to become more confused and violent. Keep in mind that when injected with a tranquilizer, a large animal takes time for the drug to take effect and drop them, and until that happens, they are often disoriented and potentially even more dangerous. Using additional amounts of a tranquilizer can often put the animal down quickly, quite often killing it.

  25. Victoria,

    Just when I thought it was safe to leave the house, LOL; however, reality can sometimes be stranger than fiction or black swan scenarios. It also doesn’t necessarily require a Black Swan event, just a mentally disturbed owner of exotic animals, and here in Ohio, last October (2011) Victoria’s scenario came to life for real near Zanesville, a sleepy little town in Muskingum county about one hour east of Columbus (Ohio’s capital city).

    A number of exotic animals (many that are considered apex predators) were released by Terry Thompson, the owner of a private wild animal preserve, who then killed himself. He had been recently released from prison and had been accused in the past of animal abuse and neglect. IIRC, he also had been having financial problems, which I understand is common among non-wealthy folks who have exotic animals. The cute little lion or tiger cub eventually grows up to have a large appetite, requiring large amounts of meat daily.

    Deputies of Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz were called to the preserve with complaints of wild animals running loose. During the rather chaotic night an escaped lion killed a monkey, and bears and lions were attacking horses kept at the preserve. By the time the night was over, 49 animals were put down, including 18 Bengal tigers, 17 lions, six black bears, a pair of grizzlies, three cougars, two wolves and a baboon. Six animals were still in their cages, a grizzly bear, three leopards and two monkeys and were taken to the Columbus Zoo.

    Wildlife expert Jack Hanna (director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo), advised Sherriff Lutz during the event and said it was especially heartbreaking to see so many Bengal tigers killed when they are on the verge of extinction.

    Zanesville is about 80-90 miles from my location as the crow flies and I had no idea such a place existed. Do any of you know if there’s such a place near you? It’s probably worth considering.

    First of all, I generally agree with Victoria, but still think the human being is perhaps the most dangerous animal in any of these scenarios. Not only are we thinking, calculating creatures, but I suspect there would be more hesitation to dispatch a fellow human, than perhaps a large canine or feline.

    In my state coyotes are a growing species and are found state wide. Feral hogs are found mostly in the more wooded and less developed regions of southern Ohio, and can be quite dangerous. Feral hogs after living on their own in the wild actually have physical changes occur that don’t occur in a domesticated environment. The bridge of the nose straightens out and becomes more shovel like, and they can grow tusks. Having a 300+ pound animal with tusks charging you at knee level in the woods is not my idea of a fun time.

    Currently, aside from other humans, the animal that hurts and kills the most humans is the white tailed deer, primarily during deer vehicle accidents. How this would change after the Black Swan event would depend on what vehicles and infrastructure would still be available.

    You stated, “you cannot just expect them to feed themselves. If at all possible, they will hunt better and more effectively if you feed them on top of what they catch”. All I can say to this is, Thank You, Thank You, and Thank You. Living on a farm with an entire herd of outside cats who make our barns and other outbuildings their homes, I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people mention that not feeding the cats will make them hungry and more likely to hunt mice, which is just plain incorrect. Cats instinctively hunt smaller moving critters, and a well fed and healthy cat will hunt all the better. Also, relying on them to fend for themselves (which they will do in the wild if they have to) assumes that there are always plenty of mice to go around.

    Also, when you mention polecat, I assume you mean skunk. It’s just another one of those regional dialect things I suspect.
    You mention placing netting over your trees and gardens. This is another area where you can have a skill and a potential barter product for people who may need nets. As long as you have cordage (twine, paracord, and other kinds of string and rope available, then making nets is a very easy skill to learn. It is however a little tedious and time consuming. Nets can also be built and used for fishing, birding, or for handling larger animals or cargo.

    I think that most large game animals, except perhaps the Cape buffalo, can be brought down with .30 caliber firearms like .30-06, 30-30, .308 (7.62×51), 7.62x54R (Mosin-Nagant) and even the 7.62×39 (AK and SKS). The important thing here is to use and have on hand the cartridge with the correct bullet to deliver the largest amount of shock trauma into the prey, and this will not be the military ball or full metal jacket used by the rules of warfare. Additionally .50 and .54 caliber muzzle loading rifles can also be used successfully. Note that I mentioned firearms here and not just rifles, since there are handguns chambered in some of these calibers,

    • OhioPrepper:

      Although we live in different area’s out “critter issues” are similar. We do have a few more of the big ones, but its the deer and coyotes that cause the most issues, mostly because they breed so fast.
      Then we have all those kind hearted people that decided we were bad people for driving out the wolves. So lets introduce a much larger, stronger breed that was never here, secure in the knowledge that they will only kill the lame and old. That’s why we find bull elk with just the anus eaten out. These wolves will not just go away in a SHTF situation, they will get bolder than they already are.

      I also agree that you should have enough weapons, use your head (keep it on a swivel) and be proficient with your weapon(s). That will serve you best.

  26. The thing about zoo animals that most people dont know is this , 95% of animals you see in a zoo were born in captivity …… if the zoo belongs to the AZA ( most do ), they dont own the animal , and the animals are moved around quite a bit to other zoos for breeding purposes or swap out exhibits .the animals dont know any other life . I worked for over 25 years in the theme /exhibit /zoological industry , this gave me a view most people dont get . These animals are very well taken care of , the keepers behave more like parents to the animal than just a person doing a job , they sure and hell dont do it for the money . With that said , The animal is still “wild ” but is incapable of living in the wild . They have had very close contact with people all their lives and may not be afraid of them if they did escape . They will not behave the way you would expect them to if you ran into one . Just keep in mind that they are not accustomed to the outside , one without boundaries of some kind , and will be extremely scared . They will be more afraid of their surroundings than they will be of you .

  27. Uncle Charlie says:

    And here I was worry about storing food. All I have to worry about is having enough ammunition to take care of the endless numbers of wild animals that will be there for my taking sitting on my front porch.

    Even if our population is halved or quartered, check out in the history books what our forefathers did to animals with primitive weapons before hunting seasons and other regulations were put into place. Wild animals would be decimated in a relatively short period of time, so keep stocking up on supplies preppers but always go armed in case you run into a pack of wild dogs or the much more dangerous packs of two legged predators.

    • I’ve read that there are many more deer in N America than before Columbus. And there may have been as few as 20 million people on the whole continant, hunting with stone tipped spears and arrows.
      Amazing what modern wildlife management can accomplish.

      • EthanP,
        There are indeed more deer in the US than ever before; however, the only wildlife management involved has been the regulation of hunting with seasons and bag limits.
        The biggest reason for more deer is the creation of significantly more deer habitat when forests have been cut to make way for modern civilization. Deer are not grazers like cattle, but are instead browsers. Browse consists of leaves, small live twigs, and bark. You rarely see deer in a large old growth forests, since the browse which consists of the lower limbs are 10 or more feet above them. As we cut down trees to make room for farmland and housing, we create a lot of “edge”, which is that line between the cleared land and the forest, and in some places, fencerows. The edge and the fence rows are the area where you see small young trees, shrubbery, and bushes, all of which are great food sources for deer. Cutting down these large tracts of forest destroyed the habitat for some species, and created habitat for others, like deer. Nature will take advantage of every opportunity and fill any void.

    • If you you were served a meat dish , that was properly cooked and well seasoned along with several side dishes on a plate …………..would you be able to tell it was human if nobody told you ?

      think about it for a for a bit . Meat is meat ………..and it was just another good gourmet meal as far as you are concerned ……..until you find out . Just sayin

  28. We feed around 5 to 7 feral cats. Just enough to keep them hanging around. Why? Because they do hunt and eat roaches, mice, snakes, moles and anything else they can get their claws on. Haven’t seen a roach in over 5 years now.

    Used to hunt hogs in Texas growing up and in my adult years. They were the reason I preferred heavier calibers like the .44 mag (keith load) as a sidearm and 30.06 for my rifle. Their shoulder armor is as impressive as their tusks. We also trapped the little ones and pen raised them to slaughter for meat and lard. Finish ’em on corn and they fatten up enough to give a gallon or more of lard.

  29. Uncle Charlie says:

    Alittle2late: I was raised in the same school. Head shots only whenever possible. Quick humane kills and like you say no tracking.

    VI: Don’t know where you read that but I’ve always heard the opposite. Wolves attacking humans are very rare, at least in the US. More people are killed by people year in and year out. We are the most dangerous animal to ourselves and every other form of life on the planet.

    • village idiot says:

      UC, I was referring to the period when wild wolves killed thousands of people in Europe. It would be long before firearms were common or even existed, probably during the early Middle Ages through the 1500s. There was no recorded history in No. America during that period, but I’ve read of wolf attacks during the time the West was settled in the 1800s.

      And wolves are an opportunistic predator, you could as easily be their food as not under the right circumstances. I’m not trying to malign wolves, just saying they would be the most dangerous predator species because they hunt in packs. One man might be able to defend an attack by a single animal, not likely a pack. The book “White Fang” comes to mind.

    • Uncle Charlie, tell that about rare wolf attacks to folks in Alaska. They think we in the lower 48 are crazy to equate a wild wolf to the puppy by the fire.

  30. MountainSurvivor says:

    The overabundance of wild things says that there will be plenty of food to eat when the world caves in on itself. Anyone who is able to attract, kill and preserve the four-legged and slithering foods will be sitting on top of the world when there is no more food in the stores or inside the trailers of the transporters. If nature does not continue to do it’s normal job of killing some populations like it always has then people will have to learn how to do it. Where I live, the game department does a fine job and the hunters in the Fall also help out.

  31. Let me see here, if I remember right way back in the day before firearms there was a thriving population of Native Americans living on this side of the world. They seemed to be able to live and function fairly well with all the wild creatures out there. Yes they were skilled hunters and knew how to survive and thrive in the environment. Yes is there is a shtf event a lot of people will not be ready and will die for a lot of reasons and wild animal attacks will be one but not the major factor. I think more people will die from other human hands and disease than anythng else.

    • george,
      In the event of a “real”, hard crash, I think initially, chronic disease will kill a huge number of people. No power for the O2 concentrater, no insulin, etc. will make the first die off rather abrupt and not pretty; however, I don’t think the crash will be that severe and instantaneous, but a slow decline. Unless however, it’s something nasty like an EMP, CME, pandemic, etc. Only time will tell, and all we can do is our own personal best to prepare.

  32. Good article. I live in a rather urban area and we already have problems with coyotes. Deer are also known to crash into houses and businesses, especially during hunting season. In Georgia, wild pigs are in season year round. They are a problem in part because pigs would escape from some of the commercial pig farms. I’m still hoping I get the benefit of one for my freezer.

  33. Great article. I am glad to know that after the Black Swan I will be able to hunt exotic animals without all the cost of a trip to Africa. The problem with the 45-70 is recoil. Unless you are experienced with large caliber rifles I would not run out and buy a 45-70. If you are experienced then get one. They look great in the gun rack in the pickup. Otherwise start small with a .22 and work yourself up to a .270, .308, or 30-06. Pick one and learn to shoot that rifle. You will be able with a proper bullet placement kill anything that will be wondering around including Bison. Skip the exotic calibers because you won’t be able to find ammo after an event. Your gun rack should include: .22 rifle, .270 or larger rifle, 12 gauge shotgun, and a .357 mag or larger handgun. Happy hunting!

  34. Victoria
    Greatly appreciate your article. People prepare for whatever is around them, never realizing as events occur, people relocate, more and more 4 legged animals become transient. Currently reside in a state where Pythons were never a problem. People owning Pythons for pets, discovering they were unable to relocate and keep their pets…now Pythons are a huge threat. Each area of the country will experience an influx of various animals, when Black Swan occurs. Thanks to your article…we have time to prepare. Great article …thanks

  35. Good grief! How could I overlook this potential problem? I live two miles from a zoo. Yikes! That rifle I’ve been eyeing just moved up on the priority list.

  36. Well now that I have read all your comments here, I think I will go off to bed have nightmares! Scary stuff!

  37. Victoria –
    Thank you for doing such a fine job writing this article. It was a great read.

  38. Uncle Charlie says:

    Worrisome: ever time I Google wolf attacks in Alaska, I don’t come up with much. 1 or 2 fatalities at the most. When the Natives go to the outhouse, they usually carry a rifle, but it’s for bears. Wolves usually avoid people unless the people are wounded or small or week.,d.aWc

    • Uncle Charlie I guess if you use Google as your only point of research you may be right. However I have friends who are part of the native subsistence population in several areas of Alaska. They don’t live in cities and they often live miles from anywhere and most of them have something a bit more to relate about running into a pack of wolves while working around the homestead or hiking to the post office. One lost his wife to wolves three years ago.
      I know these folks from some photography jobs I had in these areas 10 or 12 years ago. I have kept in touch and once in a while still get there to visit. Not sure where you get your stats that they avoid people. If they are hungry, people make as good of a meal as anything else. What they are commonly known for is not attacking or being around areas where there is lots of activity, cities, etc. Unlike coyotes who are opportunistic and will settle for the garbage can, they will avoid those kinds of areas. But if you are out in the bush where they are and you are alone, you can be a target. Not a very happy way to go. As a threat? I would not want to be in a position to have to fight them off.

  39. Suburban Housewife says:

    Victoria S – this was great! I am running a little behind in my reading but I read every word of this article. Had never really given much thought to this aspect of what the future might hold…nicely done. Thought provoking and very interesting too.

  40. Pretty well thought through, although I might disagree with some of your assumptions. But no matter – it’s a good piece, and a subject I’ve not seen addressed before. I think the human ‘die off’ would engender LOTS of RAPID growth in animal populations, particularly those that will eat our carcasses.

    I noticed you left out javalinas, which can be quite dangerous although they aren’t really large. Small, ill-tempered pigs really, confined today to the southwest. But in a climate warming scenario, they might spread all the way north to I-90. On the upside, I understand them to be delicious, and I am given to understand that feral pigs area also quite tasty.

  41. I just looked at the feral pig map, and it’s clearly not showing them all. You’ll notice that a lot of the areas colored as having feral pig populations end at state borders. Obviously, those pigs in North Carolina aren’t going to recognize the Virginia border, just as those Panhandle pigs aren’t going to stay out of New Mexico or Oklahoma. I’m even seeing tiny little pig spots in New England, which these days is mostly woods.

    God surely loved BBQ pork, because he’s put them all over the country!

    Regarding big snakes – if legends are accurate, they can live even where it snows all winter. Check out stories of the Peninsula Python, in Peninsula Ohio. It was allegedly from a circus train wreck in the early 1900’s, and people kept reporting seeing it or driving over it for decades.

  42. Uncle Charlie says:

    Worrisome: at your advice, I tried Duck Duck Go and got the same results. Fatal attacks are rare since the invention of firearms. I found several sites stating that there were only 2 fatal wolf attacks in all of the US in the last 60 years.

  43. Encourager says:

    Okay, here is my 2 cents.

    We had a neighbor (thank God she is now gone!) who crossed wolves with dogs for a hybrid. She kept them in small cages, controlled them with cattle prods, fed them road kill and picked up leftovers from the butchers – all fed raw. They also got loose. And shot dead on sight. The problem? Because of the wolf, any small child who squealed, cried, fell down and ran around silly was prey. Because of the dog, they had no fear of humans. In Michigan, we had numerous incidences where children were killed or maimed by these hybrids. Eventually her kennel was confiscated by the county and they were all put down. Not just coyotes will breed with dogs. Wolves WILL breed with dogs. We have seen packs of wolves in our rural area (south of Lansing, west of Detroit); one son nearly hit a couple as a large pack was running down a deer and ran in front of his car. We also have feral pigs, thanks to a certain rock star that lived south of us and had them so his buddies could hunt them. He sold out and moved; the pigs got loose.

    We have very few pheasants and other small game birds now (30 years ago they were very numerous) as we have more coyotes and fox. The rabbit population is nearly gone because of these two predators (it used to be like seeing popcorn popping going down our road at night with all the bunny tails). We have seen bobcats and in a township 30 some miles south of us, a township supervisor took pictures of a mother cougar and two cubs drinking from his pond. A number of horses were attacked also in the same area; but the DNR denies, of course, that we have cougars or black bears in the area (pictures of black bears with cubs have also been published). There have been pictures of a black panther (someones pet let loose) south of here; one of the pics was taken by a LEO as it crossed in front of his vehicle.

    People seem to think if they dump their pets, dogs and cats, along our county roads that they will either fend for themselves or we will feel sorry for them and give them a home. NOT. They get shot as the dogs soon get desperate and hungry enough to attack sheep, goats and young horses and calves. The cats feed the foxes and coyotes. We all practice the 3 S’s – Shoot, Shovel and Shut up. Most skip the second S. As for forming packs, feral dogs do just that. There are no small dogs with the packs; they get eaten. Most are Lab, German Shepard, Pit Bull, Rottweiler size. NOT something you want to hear behind you in the dark as you leave the barn.

    There is a down side here in Michigan regarding so-called feral pigs. There are a number of farmers who raise Heritage pigs, that do not resemble the pink or the black and white commercial raised pigs (from pig factories). The DNR has declared these non-properly colored pigs to be feral and have taken the farmers to court to have all their stock destroyed. That is so wrong on so many levels! These pigs were not running loose in the woods but properly contained behind fencing.

    Deer are always a problem around here. In fact my husband took advantage of the mild weather today and sprayed repellant where needed. It does work! We have that deer wasting disease spread by mites in our area. Hunters have found quite a few dead deer because of it.

    Thank you Victoria for a well researched and well written article.

    • Thanks encourager, I was growing tired of trying to make the case that wolves are not just puppies when brought in out of the cold to lay by the fire.

      • Worrisome, the hybrids are extremely dangerous animals and can never be trusted. I know of a woman near us that turned her back on her neutered hybrid that she had owned for 6 years; she had been playing with him in the backyard and got nipped. She turned her back to go in the house and the animal jumped her, clamping down on her neck in a death grip. Her husband had to beat that animal off of her. They used to have that animal sleep with them in bed…they had it put down that day.

        My son had an encounter with a wolf while hiking in the north of MI. He was in his tent at night, listening to the mice scurry around his tent. It was hot and still and he could hear a storm coming. He had just the screening closed with the storm covering pulled off to the side – that was where the mice were. Suddenly he heard a growl and a pounce just outside the door. He grabbed his handgun and a flashlight and shone it out the door and was face to face with a large wolf. The animal growled at him and showed him his pearlies then disappeared. Now, my son’s smell was all around that tent, but it didn’t stop or scare off that wolf. The next hiking trip he strung a hammock between two trees nice and high, out of the range of a jumping wolf or other critters. I never asked him if he had to change his pants….

  44. DW’s grandmother would go out and “borrow” one of the local unaffiliated cats when she would find mouse droppings in the house. After about a week she would return the cat back where it came from. When the mice returned she would go out and get another one and repeat the process. The cats got fed and grandma didn’t have to worry about mice in the pantry. It was a win win.
    Great article. Thank you for putting the time into this. Obviously it has a lot of people re-thinking some preps. For me it may be enough electric fencing for the back of the homestead.

  45. Thanks for a great article. My husband read it and told me of his experience with wild dog packs. A large pack almost took out his uncle in the Central Tennessee mountains years ago. The hunting party consisted of 3 adults and 1 teen (my husband) and it was the annual harvesting time of their wild hogs on the mountain. The wild dogs came over the mountain and upon his uncle who was resting atop a large boulder. Luckily they were all seasoned hunters, and the uncle was carrying his M1-carbine. The others raced back to the uncle, hearing the shots, and helped dispatch the remainder of the pack. Scary stuff. Your article is a good reminder for us all to be aware of wildlife in the region.

  46. Thats a shocking news.

  47. Encourager says:

    It is not even safe in the cities. There are so many abandoned dogs that they have formed packs, even in the city. They are fearless.

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