Imagine someone hikes in the Vienna Woods, gets lost and spends the night in the woods.

Is there a real danger for such a person to be attacked or killed by wolves, bears, or other dangerous animals? What animals exist that pose a threat in Vienna Woods?

Update 1: Wikipedia's List of wolf attacks does not list any incidents in Austria.

  • 9
    Ticks come to mind
    – njzk2
    Commented Aug 24, 2021 at 20:44
  • 3
    If this was about the woods near VIenna, Virginia: humans
    – ab2
    Commented Aug 24, 2021 at 20:56
  • 1
    I don't know the woods of Vienna but if I were stuck in the woods here overnight my concern would be exposure (and I'm carrying more emergency gear than most of the people I meet on the trail), not the mountain lions I know are there. Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 3:51
  • @LorenPechtel By "exposure" you mean hypothermia, right? Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 7:16
  • 2
    @DmitriiPisarenko Yup. If the weather turned bad enough I couldn't get off the mountain I definitely would worry about hypothermia. Commented Aug 26, 2021 at 3:17

2 Answers 2


I am Austrian. There are realistically no animal dangers one worries about when going into nature in Austria, but let's analyse a few candidates rationally.

The following holds for most of Austria, and the Vienna Woods are probably a particularly harmless place therein:

  • Wolves: of those, there are only a handful of packs in Austria, and mainly in more rural areas (Allensteig, Tyrol/Vorarlberg). No attacks on humans have been recorded, as you note in the question.
  • Bears: even less of a problem in Austria. Sometimes, one or two wander through from neighbouring countries, but then its (like with wolves) mostly sheep farmers who are concerned about their livestock. I haven't heard of an attack ever (on the opposite, there were a few incidents of hunters illegally shooting them for trophies).
  • Ticks, mentioned by @njzk2, are certainly among the more serious dangers. They can cause tick-borne encephalitis (viral, against which most Austrians are vaccinated; hard to treat) and Lyme disease (bacterial; no vaccination exists currently), both of which are very serious deseases. But only very few tick bites result in Lyme disease, so hardly anyone really freaks out about them. You should just make sure to search for and remove ticks ASAP. Use appropriate insect repellants and long pants if you are worried, and avoid crawling through bushes.
  • There is one (naturally occuring) venomous snake posing a danger to humans: the Kreuzotter. They are almost never deadly, and very rare (lucky you if you see one!). Few (non-deadly) incidents per year are reported. Also, they tend to live in more alpine regions (practically nonexistent in Vienna, Burgenland, and the other flat south-east parts).
  • Grazing cows with calves: my candidate no. 1. Several incidents per year, especially involving careless hikers with leashed dogs, and a couple of people have died in recent years. They are only a problem in alpine regions where cows are running free on Almen over which hiking paths go, and, again, if you behave carelessly! Crossing a herd of cows is to be avoided if practical, but can actually be done without much trouble. I don't think this kind of pasture exists in the Wienerwald, though; most pastures in Austria are fenced, and paths go around them.
  • If you are allergic or very unlucky, you might of course get into trouble when being stung by one or more bees, wasps, or hornets. Wasps sometimes nest in nasty locations, like holes in the ground in the middle of sunbathing areas.
  • Rabies ("canine madness") can be transmitted by foxes and similar animals, especially over dogs. The disease is officially considered extinct since 2008, though (except within bats, but no cases of bat-bound transmission are known. There are no blood sucking varieties in Austria, all eat insects.).
  • In a previous edit I warned of rabies, but mixed it up with the definitely not extinct Fuchsräude, which can affect dogs and foxes in a deadly way. Humans "only" develop scabies from it. So do leash your dog.
  • Cat bites can lead to quite nasty infections, too; and realistically, they are more likely to bite you while petting than any other of the above animals.
  • Wild boars. While generally shy, they are often adapted and used to live in civilized environments, so you can stumble on the rather easy. Also, a similar danger as with cows and calves: coming between a sow and her piglets is something you should totally avoid.
  • 1
    I just wrote this free-hand without much research. Feel free to add stuff, everyone. Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 7:54
  • 3
    I'd move the ticks to the top of the list. One may add wild boars, particularly in semi-wild surroundings (I've had an umcomfortable encounter with a sounder with piglets in Czech republic when biking on a road that had game fences which were supposed to keep them away from the road for traffic safety - but they were on the road and had a hard time finding a possibility to get away...) IMHO getting lost in a dangerous way is far more likely because of: bad weather (exposure), accident and injury, or some disease you have (dementia) or medication you take (some hamper cognition or judgment). Commented Aug 26, 2021 at 11:36
  • 1
    ... not to forget alcohol of course Commented Aug 26, 2021 at 11:36
  • 1
    @cbeleitesunhappywithSX I don't! I always take a 6-pack camping! Commented Aug 26, 2021 at 22:40
  • 1
    wrt Lyme vaccin, this is of interest: pfizer.com/news/press-release/press-release-detail/… and this shows the world could have had a pretty good vaccin already ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2870557
    – stijn
    Commented Aug 27, 2021 at 16:20

On a more general note than the accepted answer, even in places with large populations of potentially dangerous animals, like BC, Canada (estimated 150k black bears, 12k grizzlies, 8500 wolves, 3500 cougars, 100k+ moose) people who get lost and die and people who are killed by animals are not in the same group.

  • We have recurring outdoors deaths due to people getting lost

  • We have, very infrequent, deaths from bear attacks and even fewer from cougars. None from wolves.

Whenever lost people have died outdoors here, this has been the result of accident and exposure. To my knowledge, never in the last 20 years has someone been lost and then found to have been killed by carnivorous animals.

People here have on occasion survived 2-3 weeks out and had not been harmed by wildlife.

People who did die from animal attacks were not lost. Random attacks are extremely rare and happen to the very much larger group of hikers, campers and people walking about their business rather than lost people.

I would apply this logic to most scenarios in temperate climate zones within 100-200 km of large agglomerations.

Where it would not necessarily apply:

  • jungles and places with lots of snakes (which is a different type of threat).

  • crocodile areas like in some parts of Australia

  • areas with tigers like the Sundarbans. Not saying that those tigers will eat you, just that you might be justifiably worried if you were lost there. Parts of Africa maybe.

  • near the polar circle w polar bears or maybe very remote areas like Siberia.

These are all highly specific areas and you'd know if you were in one. The average Westerner lost somewhere needs to worry about exposure and possibly starvation if in remote areas, not "savage animals".

You need to keep your wits and plan for your survival with regards to real actual dangers, not worry about imaginary ones.

  • 1
    I presume the deaths aren’t recurring to the same person…
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Aug 27, 2021 at 1:07

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