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Whats the low down on Bugs, Bears, Snakes and all the rest
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Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Mind your own business
Whats the low down on Bugs, Bears, Snakes and all the rest on 08/22/2011 11:12:21 MDT Print View

Hi folks,

I currently spend most of my Mountain time hiking and Wild camping in Ireland and the UK where the worst insects I have to deal with are Midges\Waps and ticks and animals wise it might be a squirel trying to break in to my tent :-)

I am moving to Michigan in the New Year and plan to travel to the Rockies, East Coast Mountains and upper Michigan and Ontario so if anyone could fill me in on the risks and precautions I need to take I would much appreciate it.



Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Bears bugs and snakes in the east on 08/22/2011 12:46:52 MDT Print View

In the East mountains, we have black bears. They are dangerous but normally not particularly aggressive. Give them wide berth nonetheless. I think its also always a good idea to hang your food.
We have a large variety of bugs that are annoying but not particularly dangerous. Plenty of mosquitoes and ticks. Ticks can carry disease. And chiggers can make you miserable for about a week.
We do have snakes and a few poisonous ones. I suspect I never see most of them I pass. Just watch where you step and you should be fine.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Mind your own business
Thanks Ben on 08/22/2011 12:49:33 MDT Print View

Hi Ben,

Thanks very much for the info :-)

I will watch out for the snakes, or get someone else to go first :-)



Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: Whats the low down on the biggest pest... on 08/22/2011 14:18:57 MDT Print View

the Rockies ... so if anyone could fill me in on the risks and precautions I need to take I would much appreciate it.

I've seen some decent sized black bear just lumber past me while hiking the trails of the southern Rockies but just ignore me. Really something that a large bear can be very silent but haven't had an issue; most issues I've heard about revolve around a bear being attracted to food smells from a dirty camp. Most of the time I've seen the hind ends of smaller Black bear running away after I've startled them. Hate to scare a mom away from her cub, much less get between a mother bear and cub, so reconsidering blending into the forest by wearing louder colors. More places are requiring bear canisters for habituated bears, so check that agency (national parks, us forest svc., state parks, or BLM). Snakes are around, just know their habits (cold-blooded so they like ground temps just right). Biggest problem is getting to the trailhead as drivers of all ages do not pay attention to the road while you drive to the trail. In the USA, if a person has a pulse, they qualify for a drivers license, regardless of whether the person is a complete idiot.

Edited by hknewman on 08/22/2011 14:25:15 MDT.

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
Re: Whats the low down on Bugs, Bears, Snakes and all the rest on 08/22/2011 15:33:26 MDT Print View

Black bears in the Eastern USA are not aggressive, except when they are. There have been cases of black bears predating on humans in Ontario, but it is rare. Grizzly bears are only in a small number of places in the west, but they are more aggressive than black bears.

The most dangerous animals are disease bearing ticks and mosquitos. In the east, especially the northeast, deer ticks carry Lyme disease which is a serious disease. There are also mosquito borne diseases, West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis, that are very serious but they are more common in suburban areas than in the mountains.

The northeast mountains have black flies. I don't think they carry diseases in the USA, but they can make you wish you were dead. I think the northern midwest has them also. They're worst from May through July, depending on where you are.

head net for mosquitos and black flies.
Treat clothing with permethrin where there are ticks.
Use DEET on exposed skin where there are ticks, mosquitos or black flies.
In tick areas, carefully inspect your body for ticks (a very close friend is helpful for this) and remove any you find.
Don't annoy skunks or porcupines.
Weather in the northeast USA above treeline can be dangerous even in summer; be prepared for the weather and prepared to retreat below treeline in bad weather.

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
In the Northern Rockies on 08/22/2011 20:41:21 MDT Print View


In the Northern Rockies (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming) if you take some fairly easy precautions your biggest menace in camp will be the little critters - marmots, squirrels, field mice, and their relatives that will scavange your camp. Hang your food and anything with an odor (like sunscreen and toothpaste), camp downwind of your cooking area, and clean up and a bear likely won't bother you. Black bears can be scared off and grizzlies are shy - will avoid people whenever possible. (Walter, I disagree with your commentary on this.)

That said, hike with bear spray ready to hand just in case you do surprise a sow with cubs.

Snakes are rare, venomous snakes even more rare. There are some places where rattlesnakes can occasionally be found; when hiking there just watch your step.

There are ticks, check every night for them. The other insects, mosquitoes and horseflies especially, are not dangerous, simply ferocious and annoying. When it's bug season (spring through August, later in wet years like 2011), take plenty of deet-infused bug dope and maybe a head net.


Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Mind your own business
Thanks Folks on 08/24/2011 08:44:39 MDT Print View

Hi folks,

Thanks very much for the information, I am looking forward to getting out on the mountains in the US as it will be a different experience to the UK and Ireland.