by the editors
The Montana mountains may be a refuge from the strains of life, but they too come with their fair share of stress—mainly, the not-so-friendly creatures that call them home. With a little awareness and education, though, you’ll escape your encounters with nothing but a great story. Here’s what’s out there, and what to do when you meet the locals.
Mountain Lion (Puma concolor)
Where to Find It: Mountains, but may roam urban areas in search of prey. Most active at dusk.
How to Avoid Trouble: At night, wear an extra headlamp facing backward. The light will blind a mountain lion and discourage it from stalking you.
If Trouble Finds You: Stand upright and face the cougar. Make a lot of noise and if attacked, fight back. Never run.
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Where to Find It: If you’re in the mountains of Montana, you’re in bear country.
How to Avoid Trouble: Carry bear spray and store your food safely—in a bear canister or hung up. Be noisy so you don’t surprise one.
If Trouble Finds You: Avoid eye contact and stay calm. Slowly back away from the bear. If it charges, wait till it’s about 30 feet away, then let the spray fly. Should the spray not stop it, submit completely—collapse onto your stomach, use your hands to protect your head and neck, and pray to whatever gods you can think of.
Moose (Alces americanus)
Where to Find It: Open grassy fields, marshlands, and moist drainages.
How to Avoid Trouble: Make noise when out hiking and biking, and carry bear spray just in case.
If Trouble Finds You: If it’s blocking your way, wait it out. If it charges, run away and get a tree between you and the angry moose. A squirt of bear spray should send it running.
Prairie Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis)
Where to Find It: Dens, under rocks, houses, or anywhere else a snake can fit in open, arid country. The banks of the Madison are prime real estate in the warmer months.
How to Avoid Trouble: Listen for the rattle and keep your distance. Avoid reaching into dark places and running through sagebrush.