Wildlife Hazards For Campers and Hikers


"Remember, you are a visitor in THEIR environment."  

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When in bear country, bears should be your NUMBER 1 wildlife safety concern! They are DANGEROUS and UNPREDICTABLE - NEVER (EVER) approach a bear. Yes, its true that your chances of being attacked by a bear are less than being hit by lightning; but would you hike on a mountain-top during an electrical storm?

Food, garbage and their odors attract bears. Always use bearproof facilities and techniques. DON'T hike or cycle alone - BE ALERT and make NOISE. If you encounter a bear DO NOT run or cry out. Stay calm, retreat slowly and avoid eye contact.


    • All bears are dangerous - NEVER approach or feed a bear.
    • Keep children nearby and in sight at ALL TIMES.
    • Know what to do if you encounter a bear
    • Read Safety in Bear Country !


Elk can be aggressive and attack without warning. During the fall mating season (Aug - Sept) males are particularly belligerent. During the spring calving season (May - June) female elk aggressively defend their young. DO NOT approach elk in any season as they are DANGEROUS.

Deer may aggresively seek food from campers and picnickers. DO NOT feed or approach them! They may lash outwith their hooves when they feel either threatened or frustrated. Dogs seem to incite the wrath of female deer, and many attacks on pets and people have occurred. Dogs are best left at home or in vehicles.

BISON (Buffalo)
Bison are DANGEROUS and UNPREDICTABLE. They may charge without warning. Keep at least 150 feet (50 metres) away at all times. Never come between two animals, particularly a female and her calf. Bison can weigh 2,000 pounds and sprint at 50 km per hour, three times faster than you can run.

COUGAR (Mountain Lion)
Mountain lion sightings and encounters have increased throughout the western U.S. over the past several years. The lions are an important part of the our ecosystem, helping to keep deer and other prey populations in check. Although lion attacks are rare, they are possible, as is injury from any wild animal. We offer the following recommendations to increase your safety:

  • Do not leave pets or pet food outside and unattended, especially at dawn and dusk. Pets can attract mountain lions into developed areas.
  • Avoid walking alone. Watch children closely and never let them run ahead or lag behind on the trail. Talk to children about lions and teach them what to do if they meet one.
  • Store food using wildlife-proof methods.Check out these links for information on proven food storage methods for campers in bear country.

What should you do if you meet a mountain lion?

  • Never approach a mountain lion, especially one that is feeding or with kittens. Most mountain lions will try to avoid confrontation. Always give them a way to escape.
  • Don't run. Stay calm. Hold your ground, or back away slowly. Face the lion and stand upright. Do all you can to appear larger. Grab a stick. Raise your arms. If you have small children with you, pick them up.
  • If the lion behaves aggressively, wave your arms, shout and throw objects at it. The goal is to convince it that you are not prey and may be dangerous yourself.
  • If attacked, fight back!

Generally, mountain lions are calm, quiet, and elusive. The chance of being attacked by a mountain lion is quite low compared to may other natural hazards. There is, for example, a far greater risk of being struck by lightning than being attacked by a mountain lion.

Generally speaking, all North American mammals are unpredictable if they preceive a threat... especially from humans. Any action that interupts an animal's natural instincts or activities can be interpreted by them as such. This includes:

  • Human interventions between a parent and young animal
  • Human intervention in animal's mating cycles
  • Human interventions between animals and their food
  • Humans being preceived as prey
  • Human's startling or surprising animals
  • Humans blocking animal's escape routes
  • etc.

Also, some mammals carry diseases that can be transmitted by physical contact with the animal. Of note are:

  • Coyotes, skunks, and foxes carry rabies
  • Armadillo's (are the only animals besides humans that) carry leprosy

Finally it should also be noted that :

  • Chipmunks, squirrels, gophers, etc. will bite and / or scratch you!
  • Skunks will spray you!
  • Bobcats HAVE attacked humans!
  • Mooses HAVE killed humans!
  • Badgers can be really, really mean!
  • etc. etc. etc.

Knowing all of this...

... what do you think your strategy should be

when YOU encounter animals in THEIR environment ?






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