By Montana Grant

Posted: August 6, 2022

Montana is a place where death could be just around the next tree, rock, or field. You seldom find gang bangers, serial killers, or criminals in Big Sky Country. The worst death could come from fangs, stings, impacts, bites, or other lethal encounters.

Big Sky Country could also be known as Big Shred Country or Big Gored Country. Most nonresidents are aware of a close encounter with Grizzly bears. Fortunately, they are rare. Bears have more sense than to mess with vengeful humans.

Here are the most likely ways Critters could kill you in Montana. 

                DEER     Big game animals on and in the highways are a huge risk. Speeding vehicles could quickly impact a deer, moose, elk, or other big critter. At 60 mph, the outcome will be deadly for all. Deer also carries ticks which carry Lyme’s Disease and other unwanted illnesses. Chronic Wasting Disease could also be a concern.

                BUFFALO     You can now find more Bison throughout the state. Herds exist on reservations, private farms, and National Parks. Hitting one with a vehicle is possible since few fences can survive a buffalo. Tourists frequently thing Buff are just big, furry pets and get too close. They pet their noses, place kids on their backs, and torment them until the buffalo has had enough. A goring by a buffalo horn is often followed by a tossing of the tourist 10 or more feet into the air. Then a celebration stomping will finish the job. If you aren’t dead, you will be heading to the hospital.

                BEARS    MT is home to both Black and Grizzly Bears. Both are dangerous predators and unpredictable. Fortunately, they naturally avoid humans. Sadly, some campers, and folks feed them and welcome them into their yards. Now they can become part of the Bear Buffet along with pets, bird feeders, ag animals, and children. Injured and old bears will hunt and kill humans. Mama bears and cubs will be the usual encounter. Humans always lose. On average there is at least one death by bear each year but dozens of close encounters. 

RATTLE SNAKES     Venomous bites can be deadly depending on age, health, and bite location. Only the western Prairie Rattlers are venomous. There are 10 species of snakes that can also bite, but not have venom. Rattlers can get huge. The snake pictured was caught near Ennis, MT.

                SPIDERS    Black Widow and Brown Recluse spiders can kill. Normally younger and older humans are mortal victims. If bitten, humans and pets will get sick and be in extreme pain.

                COUGARS, PANTHERS, CATAMOUNTS    these are all the same predators. If a cat wants you, you will never see them coming. They are stealthy and smart predators. Your head and neck will be their target. They can strike hikers, bikers, and skiers. Encounters are rare but are deadly when they occur.

MOSQUITOS, BITING FLIES   Montana Squitos can be HUGE! They also can carry deadly viruses and diseases. Infections from scratching are also a concern.

WOLVES and WOLVERINES     Encounters are rare but deadly. Wolverines often scare adult Grizz off a fresh kill. Wolves can be 200 pounds of fangs, jaws, and bites! Normally, these animals need to be surprised to become aggressive but if they are sick or injured, they need to eat too.

BATS, RACCOONS, COYOTES, and SKUNKS     These critter bites are deadly due to Rabies.

PRARIE DOGS and GOPHERS    These burrowing critters can carry the plaque. Avoid bites, touching, and any encounters.

BEAVERS    Drinking contaminated water, with Beaver poop in it, can give you Giardia. You may not die from this gastrointestinal nightmare, but you may want to.

Be Aware! Stay alert, educated, and use caution. Snake encounters often occur on south facing slopes around rocks and bushed. They also happen when they are being poked and handled. Bears will be close to other big game food sources, berry patches, and dense cover. Truly wild critters are naturally afraid of humans.

Carry a sidearm, bear spray, and bring along some common sense when afield.

Montana Grant

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