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
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
- 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 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
- 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
- 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
– 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.
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
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:
- Identify the snake type, so you can receive the correct
- 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.