I am going to go to the Yellowstone park and other parks in the north-west (e.g., Glacier park); I'll be there for a couple of weeks in the late summer and we will sleep in tents in campgrounds part of the time. I have been excited about that for a long time: this is a dream since I was a kid watching documentaries on the Italian public TV. However, as that time is approaching I am having thoughts about bears and the like. Am I likely to meet dangerous animals while camping? Here I have some related questions:

  1. How likely is that I would meet bears at this time of the year?
  2. How likely it is that I meet wolves or mountain lions or other carnivores at this time of the year?
  3. What other animals should one be aware of, in order to have a happy and accident-free vacation? (e.g., poisonous snakes, deer/wood-ticks)
  4. How should you behave when you meet them?

I know more or less what I could expect: I will be going there with two Americans; we are planning to stay on the beaten track; and my wife's dad is a hunter from Minnesota, so he will get us prepared a little bit. However, I do not have firsthand experience and I would like to have advice with this regard from experienced people.

  • 2
    Welcome to The Great Outdoors. Please do also search on your key words like 'bear' and 'mountain lion' as there is a lot already on the site.
    – Willeke
    Jul 22, 2018 at 10:29
  • 2
    Hi Fuca26 and welcome to TGO. Sounds like an awesome trip you have ahead of you. These are multiple related questions, some of which are already answered in existing questions as pointed out by Willeke. Please search and read those and if you still have open points, ask about them in separate questions.
    – imsodin
    Jul 22, 2018 at 12:09
  • 3
    Animal attacks on humans are pretty rare. Your drive to the park is probably the more dangerous.
    – paparazzo
    Jul 22, 2018 at 17:35
  • 1
    thank you @paparazzo. Indeed, I am reading posts over the outdoors chapter and they all say your same thing. Now I'll look on bears.
    – Fuca26
    Jul 22, 2018 at 17:59
  • 1
    The number of wild animal attacks per year is very low. You're much more likely to be attacked by another human in the park.
    – Qudit
    Jul 22, 2018 at 18:24

1 Answer 1


I'm a Glacier National Park local, as in I can see the park from my house, and my house is on the map that they hand out at the gate for Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.

  1. Very Likely. In fact, it's unlikely that you won't see a bear. There are bears everywhere. You will be investing in a bottle of bear spray, but the bears in the park are lumbering oafs following their noses to their next snack, just don't leave any food laying around and do as advised by park officials when it comes to bears, you will be given plenty of flyers about how to handle bear encounters. Last bike ride I went on this summer in Glacier I saw 4 bears.

  2. Very unlikely, your odds of being struck by lightning are probably greater. Cougars are stealthy and hate human contact, they'll get out of your way long before you have a chance to spot one. That being said, there are rare incidents where old, sick and starving cougars will come out of the woods in desperation and hunt dogs and cats, etc. There was an incident in Waterton a couple summers ago where a 16 year old gird got scratched by a cougar that had been harassing people on one trail, but the cougar wasn't well, and was put down on the trail by a ranger. Wolves will not go anywhere close to where people are. This is cattle country, and wolves still carry a bounty. If you see a wolf outside a park you can make an easy $500.00 bucks if you shoot it (on the Canada side at least). I've lived here over 30 years and I've never seen a wolf in the wild (but I've been bit by a coyote). You may see wolves in Yellowstone, because they have gone through great efforts to reintroduce them there, but your odds of encountering one are probably still slim.

  3. There aren't any poisonous snakes in the mountains, but there are rattlers in the plains. Ticks are always a thing, just check each other over after a hike in the woods. Even if you find an attached tick all you have to do is pull on it moderately until it lets go, but don't rip them right off.

  4. Behave like a human. Your default for any encounter is to stand together as a group and make lots of noise. The human voice is the number one deterrent for all animals in the wild. If the animal doesn't move, or is taking a fighting stance, then back away slow until the animal understands you don't want to fight and it'll eventually take off. If the animal doesn't take off, and decides to come closer, this is when you get mean and whip out the bear spray/bear bangers, you last resort is to fight it off caveman style with a rock to the tip of the snout. I will disclose that bears in the national parks aren't afraid of casual encounters with people, and will ignore you for the most part because their accustomed to tourists getting out of their cars to take pictures of them, etc.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.