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Jowy
01-04-2016, 15:46
Hello!

I'm hoping to hike the AT this year, NOBO starting in May.

Being from the UK I've never had to concern myself with bears before, but I understand there is occasionally some human-bear interaction in certain areas that the AT passes through.

I've read a lot of the posts on here about hanging bags, bear canisters and all the rest but I kind of get the impression there's already an assumed knowledge on bears.

I really don't know a lot about them other than don't try and run or climb to get away from a black bear. The idea of playing dead honestly scares the crap out of me but I suppose if that's the only thing to do you've gotta do it.

I just want to know whether hikers normally take precautions, like carrying pepper spray or something in case of an aggressive bear?

Thanks
Joe

egilbe
01-04-2016, 15:56
Black bears as a rule aren't aggressive and will usually avoid people because we hunt them and they are pretty smart. Hanging food is to save the bear, not you. A fed bear is a dead bear. You are more likely to injured from a fall, than a bear attack.

For the record, you fight off Black bears, play dead with grizzlies.

Malto
01-04-2016, 17:03
Bears are way down the list of what you should be worried about. There is another thread on here recently that addressed Fears on the trail. Keep in mind, bears will avoid you because you will be hiker stinky.

Sarcasm the elf
01-04-2016, 17:20
Bears are probably the single most overhyped fear that people have when they start hiking the A.T.

Are they large wild wild animals that should be treated with respect? Yes

Are they generally dangerous to humans? No

Most of us who have spent time on the A.T. have enountered a blackbear. The bears almost always run away. In the extremely unlikely event of dealing with an aggressive black bear, stand your ground, it is likely that it is a rare case of a younger male bluff charging. In the event of a black bear attack, do fight back with everythig you have got, the odds of fighting them off are fairly good.

Since you mentioned "playing dead" don't do this around a black bear, that is advice for dealing with the much more powerful Brown/Grizzly bear species that live in the Western USA and isn't relevant to black bear safety.

Jowy
01-04-2016, 17:20
Black bears as a rule aren't aggressive and will usually avoid people because we hunt them and they are pretty smart. Hanging food is to save the bear, not you. A fed bear is a dead bear. You are more likely to injured from a fall, than a bear attack.

For the record, you fight off Black bears, play dead with grizzlies.

How come a fed bear is a dead bear?


Bears are way down the list of what you should be worried about. There is another thread on here recently that addressed Fears on the trail. Keep in mind, bears will avoid you because you will be hiker stinky.

Roger that, i'll leave the soap at home

johnnybgood
01-04-2016, 17:22
Just remember to give bears a great deal of respect and you will be fine. Your usual bear encounter sees the backside of a bear as it is running away from you.

MuddyWaters
01-04-2016, 17:22
No.
If your fears are properly directed, you would worry more about being killed by lightning, falling off a cliff.

HooKooDooKu
01-04-2016, 17:31
How come a fed bear is a dead bear?
The bear will learn to associate humans with a source of food, will become aggressive/dangerous to humans, and the bear will then be put down to protect the humans.

Jowy
01-04-2016, 17:32
No.
If your fears are properly directed, you would worry more about being killed by lightning, falling off a cliff.

This is probably true, but I'm familiar with walking unforgiving trails so I know what to expect with regards to that. Snakes and bears are new to me though.

Jowy
01-04-2016, 17:37
The bear will learn to associate humans with a source of food, will become aggressive/dangerous to humans, and the bear will then be put down to protect the humans.

Ahh I see, so keep food out of reach of bears.

HooKooDooKu
01-04-2016, 18:24
Yea, it's not that the bears will start to see people AS food, but they can learn to associate people with food. When that happens, they begin to seek out humans rather than trying to avoid humans. When that happens, they become a danger to humans and the bear will then be put down.

This is also why you don't start a bear encounter by throwing food at the bear.
You can read the official "instructions" on dealing with a black bear encounter from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Web Page (http://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/black-bears.htm).

But it basically comes down to this:
If you see a bear, the moment the bear detects your presence (usually before you detect his) he will already be running away from you.
If the bear does not run away, you should start by making loud noises to try to scare the bear away.
If the bear has already learned to associate people with food and starts to approach you, try to move away, retreat to higher ground (make yourself look as large and as threatening as possible) and throw rocks at the bear.
Only if throwing rocks still has not deterred the bear and he continues to approach you, THEN you should try to separate yourself from your food.
If the bear continues to approach you, the bear might see you AS food (rare but has happened) and you will need to fight the bear with all your might. Keep in mind that you don't have to be stronger then the bear, you just have to put up enough of a fight that the bear decides you are not worth it.

Over the years, I would guess that I have had about 20 bears encounters in GSMNP. About 40% of the time, the bear was far enough away that it ignored me. About 40% of the time, the bear ran as soon as it detected my presence. Once a bear approached me while on a lunch break at a shelter. One shout was enough to scare the bear off. The only time I've encountered a bear that didn't run off with shouting, it had learned that backpacks contain food (it has stolen a back pack out of a shelter just a few nights earlier). Fortunately our packs were already hung on the bear cables provided at GSMNP shelters and camp sites, and the bear only paid attention to our packs on the bear cables and not us throwing rocks at it. Once it realized it wasn't going to get the packs from the bear cables, it left.

Given the number of bear encounters I've had, I would say there must be thousands of bear encounters in the GSMNP each year. In about the last 20 years, there's only been one death and a hand full of serious injuries in GSMNP due to bears. When you consider that is what is happening in just the National park (where you have a relatively large concentration of people and bears), you're even less likely to have a "bad" bear encounter over the rest of the trail where the density of people and bears is smaller.

swjohnsey
01-04-2016, 18:59
No. You will be lucky to catch a glimpse of one.

MuddyWaters
01-04-2016, 19:07
This is probably true, but I'm familiar with walking unforgiving trails so I know what to expect with regards to that. Snakes and bears are new to me though.

Supposing you do worry about da bears,
What you going to do about it??
Stay home?
Thats the thing, nothing you can do
Follow good practices, and trust providence.

If a bear decides to eat you on the AT, you will be immortalized as the first.

jimmyjam
01-04-2016, 19:31
Exercise common sense with your food. Don't eat in or near your shelter. I prefer to eat at the shelter and then camp away from the shelter. Hang your food when possible and hang it correctly. Do these things and you're more likely to have your food eaten by a fellow hiker than a bear.

johnnybgood
01-04-2016, 20:23
Snakes and bears are new to me though.

Regarding snakes only 2 are venomous along the AT and neither has enough toxin to kill a healthy person. There are rare instances where a freak metabolic syndrome could trigger a rapid deterioration of the cells that carry oxygen rich blood throughout the body but a HIGHLY improbable occurrence that probably rivals being struck by lightning.

Ground vibrations sent from trekking poles tips striking the ground as you hike will alert snakes in proximity of the trail of your arrival in advance.
Just be prepared to see them as the weather warms and if one pops up as you're daydreaming try not to scream too loud so others may hear you. :)

For what it's worth; my wife once was bitten by a copperhead while we were hiking and she has had no long term affects from the venomous bite.

iAmKrzys
01-04-2016, 20:24
If your fears about bear encounters don't go away easily you may want to read Stephen Herrero's book "Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance": http://www.amazon.com/Bear-Attacks-Causes-Avoidance-revised/dp/158574557X . I think this is the best book on the subject that I have ever read.

Jowy
01-04-2016, 20:25
Yea, it's not that the bears will start to see people AS food, but they can learn to associate people with food. When that happens, they begin to seek out humans rather than trying to avoid humans. When that happens, they become a danger to humans and the bear will then be put down.

This is also why you don't start a bear encounter by throwing food at the bear.
You can read the official "instructions" on dealing with a black bear encounter from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Web Page (http://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/black-bears.htm).

But it basically comes down to this:
If you see a bear, the moment the bear detects your presence (usually before you detect his) he will already be running away from you.
If the bear does not run away, you should start by making loud noises to try to scare the bear away.
If the bear has already learned to associate people with food and starts to approach you, try to move away, retreat to higher ground (make yourself look as large and as threatening as possible) and throw rocks at the bear.
Only if throwing rocks still has not deterred the bear and he continues to approach you, THEN you should try to separate yourself from your food.
If the bear continues to approach you, the bear might see you AS food (rare but has happened) and you will need to fight the bear with all your might. Keep in mind that you don't have to be stronger then the bear, you just have to put up enough of a fight that the bear decides you are not worth it.

Over the years, I would guess that I have had about 20 bears encounters in GSMNP. About 40% of the time, the bear was far enough away that it ignored me. About 40% of the time, the bear ran as soon as it detected my presence. Once a bear approached me while on a lunch break at a shelter. One shout was enough to scare the bear off. The only time I've encountered a bear that didn't run off with shouting, it had learned that backpacks contain food (it has stolen a back pack out of a shelter just a few nights earlier). Fortunately our packs were already hung on the bear cables provided at GSMNP shelters and camp sites, and the bear only paid attention to our packs on the bear cables and not us throwing rocks at it. Once it realized it wasn't going to get the packs from the bear cables, it left.

Given the number of bear encounters I've had, I would say there must be thousands of bear encounters in the GSMNP each year. In about the last 20 years, there's only been one death and a hand full of serious injuries in GSMNP due to bears. When you consider that is what is happening in just the National park (where you have a relatively large concentration of people and bears), you're even less likely to have a "bad" bear encounter over the rest of the trail where the density of people and bears is smaller.

I see, good to know what to do, even if I'll likely never have to do it.

Thanks for all the info guys!

RockDoc
01-04-2016, 20:34
Consider yourself lucky if you even see one bear. Tripping and falling is the sort of thing you need to worry about.

Having said that, there is a very real risk of losing your food if you are not responsible. It's difficult to do a good "hang" in most areas on the AT. Most tree limbs are too low and limber, and the bear has not trouble grabbing your bag if it's only 6 feet off the ground. The bears have seen it all before, and they know what they are doing. Look into the PCT method of hanging.

If you can't do a good hang, don't do a hang at all, because if the bears get your food you have trained them to expect food from the hikers that follow you.

In bear country, only carry food that has little if any odor, and keep it packaged in zip lock plastic bags (garbage included). More people than you think actually sleep with their food, and don't have any problems. Bears won't attack you in your bag to get food that they can barely even smell.

garlic08
01-04-2016, 20:50
First time I went hiking in grizzly country, I looked at bear fatality statistics in the continental US (excluding Alaska). At that time, about ten years ago, I was surprised to see the most recent fatalities were from black bears in the Eastern US, in the states the AT runs through (New Jersey and New York as I remember). Soon after that hike, I hiked the AT and kept that statistic in mind. There are only a few fatalities per decade, as I remember, hardly enough to instill fear, but it's still good to remember some basic respect for a very strong wild animal with large teeth and claws. I agree with those above who say you'll be lucky to see one--it's an awesome animal.

lemon b
01-04-2016, 20:52
Nothing to worry about. Have fun, leave no trace.

Neemor
01-04-2016, 21:02
Yes, bears are scary. They will eat all your Ramen and then you will get hungry [emoji39]

gbolt
01-04-2016, 21:07
If you really really really want to see a bear... You won't. If you don't think about it or sweat it, you will round a corner of the trail and boom - two surprised species staring at each other face to face...lol.

Respect that you are sharing territory and most encounters will be brief but worthwhile, just like seeing fox, turkey or other wild life.

Turk6177
01-04-2016, 22:17
My only experience with a black bear went as follows: Hiking in VA, I heard a noise in the bushes around 25 to 30 yards in front of me. The trail was midway on the side of a hill as it often traverses. The bear went up on its rear legs a little to look at me, made four pouncing leaps in my direction to startle me and then did a 90 degree turn and ran very fast down hill crossing the path. I believe he was trying to startle me to give him time to run away. I did not run and just made a little "hey bear" noise. As far as food goes, I think if you hang it with the PCT method or on the bear cables, you should be fine. That is more than a lot of other hikers do.

PackHorse
01-04-2016, 23:34
I remember one bear encounter in GSM. Had a 16 y.o. boy with me. We saw a dead tree falling on a hill ahead of us. Then kept hearing crashing. Figured it was limbs breaking as it fell. It was a young male that had pushed the dead tree and scared himself, then ran back towards us in the laurel. We started yelling at him and it took a few leaps for him to realize there was someone in front of him. He was about 20 feet from us when he spun around and headed the other way. I still don't know who's eyes were bigger, the 16 year old or that bears!

Woodturner
01-05-2016, 01:31
My first of three bear encounters on the AT.
Shenandoah National Park, 1975
It was getting late in the day, and I had goofed off a lot during the afternoon so I was trying to get in a lot of miles in a hurry. Finally reaching a point where I didn't feel like I had another step in me, I popped my waist belt, loosened my shoulder straps (pre-sternum strap) and just sort of dumped the pack in the middle of the trail. This was shortly after crossing Skyline Drive near some kind of park facility. As I was lying there, getting my breath back and using the pack for a pillow, I started hearing the sound of something snapping twigs somewhere behind me. It didn't sound like anything big. In fact, at the time I thought it was a squirrel rummaging around on the ground. The sounds stopped, and I took this to mean that the squirrel had left the ground and gone up a tree. In a minute or so the sound of twigs snapping returned, this time off to my right. When I turned my head to see what was making the sound I was surprised to see an adult bear passing by about twenty feet away. I have always thought that during the period that I wasn't hearing anything the bear was probably using the trail. Finding a smelly, stupid backpacker blocking his/her way, the bear elected to go around rather than get too close. This was a National Park bear that was probably used to humans. I have no doubt that a bear that associated humans as a danger to itself would have beat feet in the opposite direction.
My other two encounters with bears were a mother and two cubs while climbing Whitecap in Maine and one of last year's cubs a few miles northbound from the Groundhog Creek shelter this past October.
In the first, both mother and cubs had climbed a tree, and the only reason I was even aware of them is that I had taken a break, and, being quiet the mother thought I was gone and it was safe to come down. She and the cubs were maybe 100 yards away.
In the second, the bear was also in a tree (I think, feasting on acorns. I was able to watch it for twenty or thirty minutes.) When it became aware of my presence it did something I would not have believed if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. It actually moved from the tree it was in to another tree, and then another one before coming down the trunk. When it got to the ground it headed the opposite direction with a speed that was really impressive to see.

GoldenBear
01-05-2016, 01:47
In the last six months

http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php/112171-The-answer-to-the-bear-worries?p=1979837&highlight=#post1979837

Traveler
01-05-2016, 07:50
Lots of good advice in the previous posts, I just wanted to add that trail life is a lot like home or work life. Each of these have a variety of concerns associated with them that you mitigate to reduce the problems that can occur. For example, at home or work you may be concerned with fire, burglary/theft, slippery walkways that you mitigate. The same holds true for trail life.

Should you be concerned with bears? To a degree, yes. Your home/work concerns will be replaced with real-time trail concerns that will include a number of things. For example, a short list in no particular order: insect bites (ticks especially), falling, lightning, widow makers (trees or branches that can fall on you), resupply, road crossings, UV exposure, hypothermia, and water. These and other concerns will replace the concerns of home/work, however like home/work concerns they are all able to be mitigated so the impact or danger is greatly reduced if not eliminated.

The issue of bears, as you have read here, is relatively low on the scale of things you should be concerned with. That said, if it makes you feel better to have bear spray handy, carry it with you. Many do if for nothing more than the assurance it provides.

HooKooDooKu
01-05-2016, 09:57
Regarding snakes only 2 are venomous along the AT and neither has enough toxin to kill a healthy person...
Some more statistics... The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the U.S. and has existed for just over 75 years. To-date, the park service has never recorded a death by snake bite within the national park. Car accidents are actually the #1 killer in GSMNP.

FlyPaper
01-05-2016, 13:30
Black bears as a rule aren't aggressive and will usually avoid people because we hunt them and they are pretty smart. Hanging food is to save the bear, not you. A fed bear is a dead bear. You are more likely to injured from a fall, than a bear attack.

For the record, you fight off Black bears, play dead with grizzlies.

For those who aren't from around here (e.g. the UK), along the Appalachian Trail you'll only see black bears. There should be no grizzly bears seen from the AT. I'm sure most have seen this, but this warning sign helps put the difference into perspective:

http://i105.photobucket.com/albums/m208/justadumbblonde_2006/grizzly_bear_warning.jpg

I was out with my kids (then aged about 8 and 10) and see came upon a full grown black bear foraging for food about 10 yards away. We just watched it for a while. It never ran away, but gradually meandered far enough into the woods we could no longer see it.

Snowleopard
01-05-2016, 14:20
One thing you should read up on is deer ticks and Lyme disease; Lyme disease is especially a concern from VA to NH.
If you will be in Maine, NH or Vermont in June, black flies are miserable if you're unprepared.
Bears aren't much danger in the Eastern USA. Store/hang your food at night so bears and raccoons don't get it.

kickatree
01-05-2016, 15:47
Because the bears learn about human food and go looking for it. After a while , those bears are hunted and usually killed when the become nuisances. Rule of thumb....never feed a wild animal.

Sent from my LGL41C using Tapatalk

Hosh
01-05-2016, 16:28
The chance of a violent encounter with a black bear is very low. However, I so think it is prudent use safe practices to minimize the chance of a bad encounter.

I do this, albeit in the Central & Northern Rockies, not so much for my safety, but for the safety of the bears. Once they get habituated to human food, they rarely can be re-rehabilitated.

Some things to consider:
Cook & eat at least 100 yards from your sleeping area, preferably downwind.
Store food, trash, and toiletries in bear proof containers, bear cable systems or PCT hang method preferably downwind 100 yards
Keep a clean camp site removing all foods and anything with a scent.
Stay aware on trails that are dense in forage with limited line of sight and/or have natural food sources
Avoid campsites that show signs of burnt trash, litter or uneaten food.
Be aware of signs of bear activity such as scat, tree rubs, foot prints etc.
Treat sows with cubs with extra caution and try not to get between them

Moose where transplanted in central Colorado about 25 years ago. I think they are much more of a safety threat than bears.

Shutterbug
01-05-2016, 16:30
If you really really really want to see a bear... You won't...

Your post reminded me of the first time I hiked the Wonderland Trail. One of my goals for the hike was to see and photograph a black bear. For that reason, I carried my heavy camera in my hand at all times. One morning a hiker going the opposite direction informed me that there was a bear ahead, so I should be alert. I rounded a curve and there was the bear in the middle of the trail about 20 yards from me. The bear stood on its hind legs and posed for me. After a couple of seconds, the bear ran off into the woods and I realized that my camera was still in my hand. I had been so frightened that I didn't get the picture.

Since then, I have seen and photographed many bears but I have learned -- the fastest way to scare off a bear is to point a camera at it.

rickb
01-05-2016, 16:51
Yes, you should be concerned about bears along the AT.

While US biologists have concluded thier population is healthy and sustainable, my fellow citizens lawful choice to hunt them puts them all at risk.

In the North, they may be killed by a paying customer stationed in a deer stand over a pile of stale donuts.

On the AT you will never see this, however. That is a good thing, I think. Likewise,you will never see one struggling to free itself from a so-called humane leg hold trap.

In the South (if you hike southbound) you will also likely never see a bear cowering up in a tree with a pack of dogs underneath. That is how they hunt them down there, by and large. You will see plenty of dogs out on the AT working towards that end, however.

I was unlucky enough to come across a bear running from a hunter with an arrow in its side on the AT. This was not a joyous wildlife encounter, but hardly my problem. At least compared to the bear's.

Yes, you should be concerned about the bears along the AT.

vamelungeon
01-05-2016, 17:07
Respect all wildlife, don't try to feed them or pet them or be pals. They don't want interaction with you. Admire them from afar.

As far as hunting goes, it seems like we've beaten that horse to death on Whiteblaze. There are a lot of people here who hunt and people who don't. We aren't going to come to an agreement on it anytime soon.

TexasBob
01-05-2016, 20:28
..........In the North, they may be killed by a paying customer stationed in a deer stand over a pile of stale donuts.........

I resent that characterization. I always use fresh donuts. Using stale donuts would be cruel.

shelb
01-05-2016, 23:41
In SNP, I saw 8 bears while hiking. One was within 5 feet of me! I scared it up while walking by the bushes! While I was freaked out about bears at that time, I learned that if I hung my food bag and did not have food on me at night, I would be fine.

I also made sure to never get between a mama and cub!

I have a healthy respect for bears now, and I was actually disappointed to not see one in NJ this past year (many people sighted them there!).

Odd Man Out
01-06-2016, 00:26
First time I went hiking in grizzly country, I looked at bear fatality statistics in the continental US (excluding Alaska). At that time, about ten years ago, I was surprised to see the most recent fatalities were from black bears in the Eastern US, in the states the AT runs through (New Jersey and New York as I remember). Soon after that hike, I hiked the AT and kept that statistic in mind. There are only a few fatalities per decade, as I remember, hardly enough to instill fear, but it's still good to remember some basic respect for a very strong wild animal with large teeth and claws. I agree with those above who say you'll be lucky to see one--it's an awesome animal.

I think "a few fatalities per decade" is overstating it. As I recall, the number of fatalities due to bear attacks in the 13 of the states the AT goes through is six over the past 115 years.

rickb
01-06-2016, 04:51
I think "a few fatalities per decade" is overstating it. As I recall, the number of fatalities due to bear attacks in the 13 of the states the AT goes through is six over the past 115 years.

Sounds about right on fatalities, (but it's 14 states :) )

Here is a list, but it's not sorted by state:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fatal_bear_attacks_in_North_America

HooKooDooKu
01-06-2016, 10:08
...I also made sure to never get between a mama and cub! ...
That's not the big deal with black bears that everyone seems to make it out to be.

Male grizzly bears try to kill cubs so that they can then mate with the mama and have her sire his offspring. So a mama grizzly might react to a human similar to how she would react to a male grizzly.

But black bears will only kill cubs as a food source, so a male is only likely to kill a cub that has become separated from its mother.

Actually, what researchers have typically found is that when a mama with cubs senses danger, they all scurry up trees until the danger has passed. Even if the cubs start to cry for mama, once she's up the tree, she will stay there. So basically researches have learned that a safe way to get access to cubs (say for tagging) is to find a family, scare them up trees, then climb the trees the cubs are in.

Moosling
01-07-2016, 00:56
Regarding snakes only 2 are venomous along the AT and neither has enough toxin to kill a healthy person. There are rare instances where a freak metabolic syndrome could trigger a rapid deterioration of the cells that carry oxygen rich blood throughout the body but a HIGHLY improbable occurrence that probably rivals being struck by lightning.


I thought a rattlesnake bite could deffinately kill you? I know you can rest out a copperhead bite though, btw glad your wife is ok



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

elWiesel
01-07-2016, 06:52
Can I open this up a bit further and just ask about wildlife in general to be concerned/know about.
This will be my first time in the US, so I dont know many specifics. (But Id treat an american snake much like an european one, so I think that would mostly work out).
Not really worried,just would like some sort of cliff-notes version.

Traveler
01-07-2016, 08:03
Can I open this up a bit further and just ask about wildlife in general to be concerned/know about.
This will be my first time in the US, so I dont know many specifics. (But Id treat an american snake much like an european one, so I think that would mostly work out).
Not really worried,just would like some sort of cliff-notes version.

Wildlife in general: You will likely experience some of the most clever and tenacious mice in North America along the trail. They can get into most anything they want, unless you take precautions to keep your pack out of reach (hanging with a mouse prevention device on the rope, stashed inside a tent with a zippered door, etc). The further you are from a shelter the less of an issue this becomes. You will probably see a variety of wee creatures along with a mouse or two, including moles, screws, and voles.

With wee creatures come predation, so there will be a few snakes around looking for a meal. For the most part, snakes are harmless to people and cause a minor scare when they suddenly move close to you. Rattlesnakes and copperheads are the only two pit vipers (poisonous) you may run across. Typically they won't bother you and are rarely fatal if you are bit. Regardless of the type of snake, try not to kill them (unless you are fighting for your life) as they keep the vermin population down to a level we can all live with.

Along with snakes, raptors like hawks and owls that are silent when they are catching prey and can zip by you at a significant speed and be startling. Other predators you may see are fox (which have a disturbing cry) and fishers (look like large weasels).

Other critters that are common are opossum and raccoons, mostly nocturnal and interested in any food they can mooch. Raccoons are pretty clever (moreso than mice), so keeping packs and food secured is the best method of keeping them at bay. These too are more commonly seen where people tend to camp (shelters and designated camping areas). Again, predation is always nearby, so where you have small mammals you may get to see a bobcat or two.

Around bodies of water you may see otter, muskrat, and beaver.

You will run across a wide range of birds, some like to wait until you are 6" away and take off, like pheasants that will scare the hell out of you when they do this. Other game birds include quail, grouse, and turkeys. You will see turkey buzzards floating on mountain updrafts that you may mistake for a small eagle the first time you see one. They are best identified by the lack of feathers on their heads. You should see more than a few hawks and varieties of them, along with an eagle or two along the way. Of course there are uncountable song birds along the AT, woodpeckers and migratory birds as well.

Deer are a common sight, sometimes far away, sometimes standing outside your tent door in the morning. Moose may be around in the northern reaches of the trail, hopefully from a distance. These creatures are fairly unpredictable so keep a good distance when you can. Bears are not common but not uncommon either. You may glimpse one or two along the way, though they tend to run off very fast once they know you are there. Some people have hiked on the AT for years and have never seen one, so keep the camera handy as its rare.

You will probably hear coyotes, though seeing one is pretty rare.

Bigfoot is far too busy in the Pacific Northwest terrifying tourists and confounding weight challenged BFRO TV personalities to bother with you on the AT fortunately.

Thats a pretty generalized list of things you are likely to run across. You've a wonderful adventure in the queue!

elWiesel
01-07-2016, 12:13
Wow, that's a through answer.
And you sound like you really enjoyed your hike, if Im reading that correctly.
Thanks man, I was already looking forward to it, but this added quite a lot.

Jowy
01-07-2016, 13:40
Well my concern about Black Bears has been significantly reduced, thanks folks!

I am now focusing my energy on thieving rodents and blisters, but I think I can handle this one solo.

capehiker
01-07-2016, 14:08
Can I open this up a bit further and just ask about wildlife in general to be concerned/know about.
This will be my first time in the US, so I dont know many specifics. (But Id treat an american snake much like an european one, so I think that would mostly work out).
Not really worried,just would like some sort of cliff-notes version.

Read up on ticks and Lymes disease. Those little bastards are causing a massive buzzkill with hiking.

elWiesel
01-07-2016, 14:21
Read up on ticks and Lymes disease. Those little bastards are causing a massive buzzkill with hiking.

No worries , we have those bastards in Germany.
Roommate had it 2 years ago and that was bad enough while she was staying at home.
So, Ill go all out on checking/that chemical stuff for pants etc.

GoldenBear
01-07-2016, 19:44
http://ufwildlife.ifas.ufl.edu/venomous_snake_faqs.shtml
http://www.desertusa.com/reptiles/rattlesnake-bites-spring.html
https://research.wsulibs.wsu.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/2376/1747/v61%20p130%20Minton.PDF

About 25% of all bites from venomous snakes are "dry," ie, there is no venom injected.
North American snakes carry enough venom to kill the small rodents they prey upon, but not enough to kill a large mammal. Thus, even a rattlesnake bite will RARELY kill a human.
Note, however, that ANY snake bite should ALWAYS receive immediate medical attention.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3701904

If, through seriously bad planning and bad fortune*, you find yourself bit by a venomous snake with no possibility of medical attention, your best bet is to treat the wound like any other cut and then just wait it out. Your body will EVENTUALLY clear itself of toxins, but you almost certainly won't die -- you'll just WISH you were dead.


* I wish I didn't have to add, "or incredibly stupid decisions, like trying to pick up a snake," but the fact is that's the cause of the majority of snake bites in the U.S.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2729691
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1026007/pdf/westjmed00137-0039.pdf

rickb
01-07-2016, 20:05
Thats a pretty generalized list of things you are likely to run across. You've a wonderful adventure in the queue!

Don't forget the porqupine!

Hangfire
01-08-2016, 15:50
Go see the movie "The Revenant", pretty good depiction of trail life and a pretty typical encounter with a bear. :D

Traveler
01-09-2016, 07:41
Go see the movie "The Revenant", pretty good depiction of trail life and a pretty typical encounter with a bear. :D

I hate when that happens too.

munchie
01-11-2016, 01:57
A fed bear is a dead bear because if a bear is fed by someone it will generalize that all humans offer food and it will become a nuisance. If they determine that a bear is a nuisance bear, the authorities will possibly kill it.