Dangers in the Wild (Mountain Lions, Bears, Rattlesnakes, etc.)

Dangers in the Wild (Mountain Lions, Bears, Rattlesnakes, etc.) 1

We go hiking as a family often. In the mountains. In the desert. Across rocks and over hills.

We breathe fresh air. We activate our muscles. We observe plants, flowers, and animals. We soak in the sun, splash in the water, talk without distractions, and are filled with peace.

When we tell friends & acquaintances about our 2-7 mile hikes - with our 1-year-old and 3-year-old in tow - some of them react like this:

  • "I wouldn't feel comfortable taking my toddler out that far."
  • "Aren't you scared of mountain lions/bears?"
  • "What about snakes?"
  • "Isn't that dangerous?"

We usually reply by simply stating that it's quite safe when you take the necessary precautions.

Sometimes, however, we present some short stats on probability.

Let's take the data from 2008 as an example:

  • Number of Fatalities by Car Accident: 37,261
  • Number of Murders: 14,180
  • Number of Fatalities by Lightning Strike: 28
  • Number of Deaths by Bear: 3
  • Number of Deaths by Mountain Lion: 1
  • Number of Deaths by Snake Bite: 0

Based on these numbers, you should be absolutely terrified of driving in your car. On average in 2008, 101 people per day were killed on roadways in the USA. Motor vehicle accidents are also the leading cause of death among children.

Sadly, statistics also show us that we ought to be more frightened of humans than animals. Indeed, I would venture to say that it is MUCH more dangerous to go to the mall or to work than to go for a hike.

Certainly, it is prudent to be prepared for emergencies outdoors (take enough water, keep your children close, know what to do if you encounter a mountain lion or how to treat a rattlesnake bite, etc.), but...it is even MORE important to be vigilant about safety on the road (pay attention, drive less, don't-even-think-about texting and driving, etc.).

Dangers in the Wild (Mountain Lions, Bears, Rattlesnakes, etc.) 2

The truth is this: Being outdoors is safe and wonderful, even for - especially for - children.

Sure, it's a little "wild" out there, but life is full of dangers no matter where you are. And, statistically speaking, it's much scarier to go for a ride across town than to spend an afternoon in the wilderness.

Do you hike/explore with your children outdoors?Have you ever been attacked by a wild animal? Have you ever been in a car accident?

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23 comments on “Dangers in the Wild (Mountain Lions, Bears, Rattlesnakes, etc.)”

  1. I admit to being a bit of a fraidy-cat when it comes to things that slither. But, I'm proud to admit that after having called Arizona home for six years now...I've come a long way! And gosh, those statistics were quite eye-opening.

  2. Well, now that you mention it, we did run into a bear on a hike. We were hiking through an area with ripe blueberry bushes and came upon a bear. We were kinda quiet, so I don't think the bear heard us until we were closer than we would like to be. We just slowly backed up and made lots of noise. Just because this happenend, doesn't mean we will stop hiking with our kids, it just means we need to be a bit more careful.

  3. I wish we went hiking more! The only time I get nervous about hiking is hiking during hunting season. I trust a bear or a mountain lion before I trust any hunter from Texas!

  4. We go on hikes with our kids (7 and 4 yrs old) often. We just recently found a fun spot in the desert where we had to "dodge" a few BIG cows:) We teach our kids about being aware of their surroudings. They survey the ground as we walk and enjoy the great outdoors! We also bring a gun with us, just in case we ever get into a situation with an angry animal. Luckily, we have NEVER been attacked by any animals.

    My husband and I have been in a few car accidents though. I feel so much more in control outside than I do driving or riding in a vehicle.

  5. sure puts things into perspective! I HAVE been in a serious car accident but never been attacked by a wild animal (and we do several big hikes a year). So - goes to show ya!

  6. Of course we take our son outside!! That's funny that people even question that of you. Should we keep our children in bubbles so they'll never get hurt??? It's funny, the only serious accident we have had happened at the Children's Museum!

  7. It sounds kind of silly when you put the questions like that. Yes, we take our youngins hiking & out to nature. No, we've never been attacked. Yes. I've been in more than 1 car accident.
    Interesting looking at those statistics!

  8. I have been chased by a moose in Denali National Park. I was five feet from a bear in Alaska just give animals there space. My father was on a trip where a woman was mauled by a bear. This time a year animlas are bulking up for winter give them a lot of space their stressed if they are not getting food.

  9. I think it's wondering that you take your kids out for hikes. We don't have very many places closeby us to do so, but we have a few local "state parks" that offer short trails that are good for the kids. And they love it! Even people here in our town will say to us, "Really? you take them to such-and-such parks? Aren't there a lot of ticks there?" Sure, there are lots of ticks there but ticks are also in your own backyard! If you check your kid for them afterwards it won't be a problem!

  10. We do go hiking with our three young children. We tend to stay on paths, we take water and a snack (granola bars, fruit leather, trail mix). We have never been attacked by a wild animal, nor have we ever seen a Bear, Lion or Snake while hiking either.
    I have however been in a very horrible car accident which caused me to lose one of my babies (I was pregnant with my oldest children). I lost Twin A and Twin B survived. I should also mention that you can tell if a snake is venomous just by looking at his/her head shape. If it's round it's typically not venomous, it's a triangle shaped than it typically is. Just remember wild animals are more afraid of you than you are of them. They normally only attack because they feel threatened by you. A momma will do anything to protect her young!

    1. So sorry for your loss. Car accidents are frightening (and they can happen in the blink of an eye as you are heartbreakingly aware).

      I think your comment about animals is right-on. Even if you do run into them in the wild, they're not necessarily "out to get you." Often, if you mind your own business, they'll do the same.

  11. we love to hike. although i've never been attacked, i have come upon a mommy moose with her little one close by. the do charge but if you are calm and leave them be, you are fine. it is a bit disconcerting though. we've also run into rattle snakes camping. they scare me more than moose.

  12. I can't even tell you how much I loved reading those statistics. Not that I like that anyone is dying out there in accidents, it's just true though that people get worked up about mountain lions, etc. I'm definitely a huge fan of the outdoors!...and I've never been attacked by a wild animal. My mother-in-law did step right on a coiled rattle snake in her driveway (yes, in the safety of her own living quarters) the other week though, but amazingly she stepped on it in a way that the head couldn't bite her when it try to strike. Miraculous really. Okay, that was a tangent. Happy Trails! :)

  13. I watched a show on discovery health a few months back and this woman's little I think she was 2 or 3 year old got attacked by a mountain lion, it came out of the bush and grabbed the girl by the head and dragged her off. The mother started screaming and ran after the lion and found her daughter and she survived but man that scared me a lot! I know that it is less likely to happen than all the other things like car accidents and murder but I think it just scared people more because you feel like you have more control in a car and you feel like you have a better chance of reasoning with a person or fighting one off.

  14. It's strange to me that people are so concerned. I am cautious of things in nature... animals, flash floods, etc... but as long as you are slightly aware and somewhat prepared, you're good to go. It's not worth hiding in your home. There is danger, to some degree, everywhere. Nature hikes are not something to be scared of!
    Good for you for having fun with your children. People are strange...

  15. It isn't healthy to live a life in fear. It is damaging and not of God. Taking precautions is smart, but avoiding something because you are afraid is taking away from the experience of life.


  16. We literally live right around the corner from a State Park with lots of hiking trails, down the street from another, and 10 minutes away from a few more!! We are so blessed where we live, it is so easy to get outdoors and explore.

    Where we live, even though it is in the city, it is more frequent for people to spot Mountain Lions in their backyard/on their decks then when they are hiking.

    I feel completely safe taking my kids (3 1/2, 2, and 1 1/2 months!) hiking! I have been camping when a couple bears walked right by our campsite, so even if you do spot "dangerous" animals out in the wild, it is most often not even dangerous!

    1. What fun that must be! Which State Park is it? Have you ever stayed overnight there...or do you prefer to just go on day hikes?

      Also: Do you use any kind of front or back carrier when you go hiking with your children? I'd love to hear your top tips for hiking w/ babies/toddlers in tow. :)

      1. I am with Krista on this one. She lives just outside of Henry Cowell State Park. We are just minutes from Nicene Marks State Park (just about 15 minutes from Krista's house). We have NEVER had any problems when we hike/walk. Seacliff State Beach is less than a five minute walk from my house and we never have problems with seagull or pelican attacks :^) We do get to see seals and dolphins and whales on our morning walks though!

        Now that Analise is getting older we let her hike on her own next to us and Jameson either goes in a stroller or a backpack. We have just recently started letting him walk rather than stroll when we walk down to the beach (after Markus gets home - I don't feel comfortable enough yet to let them both walk on the sidewalk/beach by myself - too busy!)

  17. Really? People have questioned you about hiking with the girls?

    We go out in the trails behind our house all the time, and to be honest, we see more snakes and creatures in our backyard than we do out in the "wild!"

    1. Same here. I've been in a handful of car accidents - one was a head-on collision on the highway in 2000. The memory still makes me shudder.

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