Rangitsch Brothers RV & Home Center Missoula Blog

  • Published on Aug 10, 2015

    Montana is a beautiful state full of majestic scenery and some of the most diverse population of wildlife in the continental United States. While camping in Montana it is important to be mindful of the wildlife that you will be sharing the landscape with. We decided to compile a list of animals you should be aware of when camping and what to do when you encounter them. 


    Bats may seem like the least of your concern when camping but it’s extremely important to avoid being bitten by one. While bats seem innocent enough, they can carry rabies which can be fatal if not treated promptly. Not all bats carry rabies, in fact, less than 10% of bats submitted for rabies testing actual test positive.  Bats are naturally shy and tend to avoid human contact. As a general rule do not handle or approach bats. Rabies is only transmitted to humans when an infected bat’s saliva enters the bloodstream. If you are bitten by a bat be sure to capture it and submit it for a rabies test and seek treatment for your wound. In most cases the bat isn’t rabid and you won’t need a rabies shot. 


    Grizzly BearIt is crucial for campers to take safety precautions when camping in bear country. Montana is home to both grizzly bears and black bears, animals that respond to encounters with humans very differently. Bears in general tend to avoid humans unless food or their cubs are involved. 
    When encountering a bear be sure to maintain a safe distance of at least 100 yards. Stay calm and immediately pick up small children and stay in a group. Do not make eye contact, run away or behave in a threatening manner. Do not try to frighten it away a grizzly bear. If one less than 100 yards, if possible, try to back away slowly. 

    There are many different techniques to use if a bear encounter becomes dangerous. First and foremost, whenever you are in bear country be sure to carry bear pepper spray at all times!  Properly using bear spray when defending against a bear reduces the number of bears killed in self defense, reduces the number of human injuries, and doesn’t cause the bear any long term damage. If a grizzly bear charges remain standing and direct your pepper spray at the charging bear. The bear may "bluff charge" or run past you. As a last resort, either curl up in a ball or lie flat on the ground, face down . Leave your pack on to provide protection, cover your neck and head with your arms and hands. Do not move or attempt to look at the bear until you are sure it's gone.

    If a black or grizzly bear attacks at night while you're in a tent, fight back aggressively with whatever you have available to use as a defensive weapon or deterrent. The bear may be seeking food rather than trying to neutralize a threat, so fight back to show the bear you are dangerous.

    Mountain Lions

    Most Montanans live all their lives without a glimpse of a mountain lion, much less a confrontation with one. Never the less they still have the potential to be very dangerous for campers in a confrontation. Most mountain lions are will avoid confrontation with humans as much as possible so if you do happen to encounter one be sure to give them a way to escape. Do not run, do not crouch down, and do not bend over. All three of these actions can make you seem like you are prey or trigger their instinct to chase. If you have small children nearby make sure to pick them up so they do not panic and run away. Try to pick them up without bending or crouching down. Picking up children also helps you to appear larger. Make yourself appear larger, wave your hands and speak in a loud firm voice, you want the mountain lion to think you are a danger to it. If it does try to attack use bear pepper spray as a deterrent. 


    Montana is home to about 10 different species of snakes but only one is venomous. The prairie rattlesnake, or western rattlesnake, is a pit viper native to the western United States. They have thick, relatively short bodies, narrow neck with wide, triangular heads. Rattlesnakes can be identified by the button-like rattle at the end of their tales. Prairie rattlesnakes are a medium sized species, typically measuring about 3-4ft.  

    PrairieLike the other animals on the list, rattlesnakes are shy creatures and won’t bother people unless provoked. To avoid a dangerous encounter with a rattlesnake simple give it a wide berth when moving around it. Watch where you walk and do not stick your hands in rock, brush or log piles.  If  a snake thinks it will be stepped on or harmed it may bite. 

    How to Treat a Snakebite 

    If you or someone you are with is bitten by a snake, immediately get away from the snake. If the snake feels threatened it may bite again, so you should move a minimum of 20 feet away. After you are safely away from the snake, seek emergency medical attention immediately. Try to keep the wounded area as immobile as possible, do not elevate the wound above the victim’s heart. Immediately remove any jewelry or clothing near the bite area because the area will swell. Let the area bleed for a few minutes to get rid of excess and do not try to suck the venom out. Try to suck the venom out introduces bacteria which can infect the wound. Apply a clean bandage and make sure the victim moves as little as possible on their way to a hospital. 


    Compared to the other animals on this list a tick can seem rather tame. Their bites just seem annoying and disgusting rather than dangerous. However tick bites can carry diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Colorado Tick Fever, Tularemia also known as Rabbit Fever, and Tick-borne Relapsing Fever. In Montana, tick season lasts from the onset of warmer weather in the spring until about mid-July when warmer weather and low relative humidity cause the ticks to become inactive.

    Tick bites can be prevented by periodically checking for ticks on your body. Wear light colored clothing so its easier to spot ticks crawling around your clothing. Tuck your pants into your shoes so that ticks can’t crawl up the inside of your pant leg. Frequently apply repellent to your skin  or clothing depending on which repellant you use. If you find a tick attached to your skin be sure to remove it safely.

    How to Remove a Tick

    First protect your fingers with a latex glove or paper towel. Using fine tipped tweezers grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible and pull upward with steady, even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick; this may cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin. After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite site and wash your hands with soap and water. Do not squeeze, crush, or puncture the body of the tick because its fluids may contain infectious organisms. Skin accidentally exposed to tick fluids can be disinfected with iodine scrub, rubbing alcohol, or water containing detergents. Save the tick for identification in case you become ill. This may help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis. Place the tick in a sealable plastic bag and put it in your freezer. Write the date of the bite on a piece of paper with a pencil and place it in the bag.

    Rangitsch Bros RV

    We hope you enjoyed our hazardous wildlife post and learned a few techniques to implement to make your next camping trip safer. If you ever need anything RV related Rangitsch Brothers is happy to help! We carry a large and diverse inventory of great RV parts and accessories. Our online parts store is stacked full of great items and accessories you will be sure to need for your next camping adventure!

    If you need anything at all from parts to service to RV sales, at Rangitsch Brothers RV we have it all!

    We hope to see you soon!

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