Montana has beautiful country for camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities. With several national parks and forests, crystalline lakes, and breathtaking mountains, thousands of people enjoy the great outdoors in the Treasure State every year. Unfortunately, wild animals, such as bats, bears, snakes, and mountain lions pose potential threats. Stay safe on your next excursion and prevent personal injury while outdoors with a few tips from experienced game wardens and officials with the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP).

Live Safely in Bear Country

The FWP has responded to grizzly bear problems in the Spotted Bear Creek drainage, Whitefish’s Dakota Avenue, Eureka, Columbia Falls, and Ferndale in the past. A three-year old male grizzly was recently relocated for the second time. The first time, he was feeding on fruit trees. The FWP fitted the bear with a GPS collar and released it elsewhere. This time, the bear was in the Deep Creek drainage near Fortine, very near to human activity. Some residents reported seeing the bear feeding in pastures near houses and barns.

Bears prefer to avoid humans, according to the FWP, but they can grow bolder around human populations in certain circumstances. Mother grizzlies, for example, may show signs of aggression if they feel something is threatening their cubs. If you live in an area that’s had grizzly bear sightings, consider keeping bear pepper spray handy just in case. Learn bear behaviors, feeding habits, and the best ways to keep you and your family safe on your next camping trip. Have a plan in case a bear comes near your campsite or inside your yard.

Avoid the Prairie Rattlesnake

There are 10 snake species living in Montana, but only one is venomous – the prairie rattlesnake. The FWP reports about 45 bites from this species of snake in the last eight years. Luckily, none of these bites were fatal. Keep an eye out for this snake and its dens during any outdoor excursion. The snake is medium-sized, with a light brown upper body and dark blotches. Look for the telltale triangular-shaped head, and pupils that look elongated rather than round. You’ll also notice a rattle segment at the end of the tail, and pits below each nostril. These snakes keep dens in south-facing slopes in rocky areas.

Snakes will typically keep away from people unless provoked. Accidentally stepping on a snake, for example, could result in a bite. If this type of snake has bitten you, you may experience pain at the site, nausea, vomiting, swelling, and difficulty breathing. Immediately seek emergency medical care. Consider carrying a snakebite kit.

Keep Up with the News of Wildlife Attacks

Game wardens have been on high alert recently because of a mountain lion attack in northwest Montana – the first reported encounter with a mountain lion in the state since 2007. The mountain lion attacked a firewood cutter near Boundary Mountain, knocking him into a tree. The man reportedly scared the animal off with his truck. Luckily, the victim only sustained scratches that did not require medical attention. Lion-tracking dogs searched for hours but were unable to locate the animal.

If you plan on being out and about in the region north of Libby, keep this recent incident in mind. Staying up to date on the latest wildlife news in your area can help you prepare for possible encounters, or give you the opportunity to reschedule your trip if necessary. It also helps to learn which wild animals are most likely to appear in the area in which you will be hiking or camping – that way you can bring the right tools and prevention gear for different animals. The more you know about the wildlife in Montana, the safer you’ll be.