Wildlife Safety

Wildlife Safety

Seeing wild animals while camping can be very exciting. Always find out which animals frequent the area you will be camping in. This information can be crucial to your SAFETY.

The animals potentially affecting your camping trip can range in size from tiny mosquitoes to huge bears. If you are prepared you can avoid unpleasant interactions. Quickly review the following wildlife safety information…


Bears want FOOD! Bears have learned to associate human activity with food. This association has increased the likeliness of human-bear encounters. Fortunately, bear attacks are extremely rare! There are only two fatal bear attacks in ALL of North America each year.

Should you be attacked by a bear, there are THREE things to remember. Ball up (protect your vitals), lie still and PRAY! There are several things you can do to reduce the odds of SCARY encounters with hungry bears. Heed the follow advice:

  • Clean Campsite – Know and follow the guidelines or rules of the camping area. Campsites with frequent bear sightings have special areas for food and garbage. Garbage, food and dirty dishes attract animals and insects. Keep your campsite clean!
  • Clean Tent - Never eat or store food in your tent. If you do, you will likely have visitors at night. A bear sniffing at your door is NOT Romantic! Keep clothes and backpacks (especially clothes that might smell like food) outside your tent.
  • Food Storage - Store food within a Bear-Resistant food container. If there are none, hang food from a tree using a Stuff-Sack. You need to hang the food at least 4 feet away from the trunk and 10 feet from the ground.

REMEMBER: The number ONE reason bears attack humans is that they are surprised and become defensive. Alert the bear to your presence. Speak to the bear in confident and calm voice. Say to the bear, “Hey, big bear there is NO food for you HERE”. Bang a pot or pan. Your noise will often encourage the bear to retreat.

If the bear does not retreat, that means you should. Never run! Running is a sign of weakness. The key is to stay calm. Do NOT to appear aggressive. Move away slowly and keep you eyes down. Do NOT look directly into the bear’s eyes. This can be perceived as a challenge.


There are over a million described species of insects on our planet. Fortunately, there are only a handful of these creatures that will likely “bug you” on your camping trip. Bees, black flies, fleas, mosquitoes and ticks are the most common problem insects.

To avoid bites from these bugs try wearing light-colored clothing that covers as much skin as possible. Do not wear perfume or cologne. This will actually attract them. Of course, using insect repellent reduces your chances of getting bit. The following information outlines your top choices for insect repellent:

  • Citronella – Natural citronella products (i.e. Natrapel) work for up to two hours and then require reapplication. Citronella repellents have been proven quite effective against mosquitoes.
  • DEET – Repellents containing DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide) are your BEST alternative for serious insect protection. DEET works especially good against mosquitoes and ticks. However, DEET is so strong that it can melt synthetic fibers! Only use DEET products on natural fibers or your skin. DEET is generally considered unhealthy when applied repeatedly (over time) to your skin, so use in moderation!
  • Permethrin – This synthetic chemical repels and kills crawling insects including ticks. This chemical is applied to your gear and outer wear. Permethrin binds to the fibers and reduces the negative effects of skin contact.

Mountain Lions

These animals are very reclusive. Mountain lion sightings are rare. Should you have the privilege of seeing one of these big cats in the wild there are a just two things to remember. Don’t run! Make noise! They are higher on the food chain than you are. You don’t want to surprise them or appear like prey. Fortunately, mountain lions are not interested in messing with humans. If they know where you are there they will go likely go away.


Like bears, rodents associate humans with food. Small marauding bandits are less scary than bears, but they can be very annoying. Don’t store your food in your pack or tent! Rodents will gnaw holes through you pack to get into your food.

The same advice for bears applies to rodents. Keep your campsite and tent clean and clear of food and garbage. Store food in animal-proof containers or hang your food from a tree. If you follow this basic advice you will greatly increase the odds of a smooth and Romantic camping trip!


Let these potent little animals do whatever they like. If you encounter a skunk in your camp or on the trail simply move slowly away from the skunk. If you scare or aggravate it you will suffer the stinky consequences.


Snakebites while camping are a rare. Bites usually happen when snakes are being handled, not because you are hanging out in the wilderness. A snake will only bite you if they are scared or surprised. Should you encounter a rattlesnake, coral snake, cottonmouth, water moccasin or copperhead, move slowly and give it space. Should you actually get bit by one of these poisonous snakes follow these steps:

  • Stay calm.
  • Identify the snake type, so you can receive the correct antivenin.
  • Clean the wound with soap and water.
  • Get to the hospital as soon as possible.


These nasty little bugs want your blood. They prefer to spend hours feasting themselves in the moist and dark areas of your body. Ticks are known for transmitting Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Both of these diseases are quite serious and require treatment with antibiotics. Prompt removal is crucial. Infection takes an extended stay in your body (like 24 hours).

ROMANTIC IDEA: A fun part of Romantic Camping can be giving your partner a full-body tick inspection. This is also known as reciprocal grooming. It’s a great excuse for stripping naked and touching all parts of your partner's body!

Should you find a feeding tick follow these steps:

  • Use tweezers or special tick removal pliers that can easily slide beneath the tick’s body. Gently and slowly pull the tick (getting as close as possible to its head) without twisting or jerking. Do NOT compress the abdomen of a tick during removal. This will cause the tick to back-wash into your body and increase the odds of infection.
  • Once tick is removed, kill it!
  • Wash the bite area with soap and water.
  • Apply antiseptic (Neosporin) to the spot.

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