View Full Version : Small Children and Bears and Coyotes

2007-06-19, 14:35
I am thinking about taking my daughter on a more remote wilderness hike than what we have done so far. I am thinking about a few days on the Fundy Foot path, not the whole thing, just in for a few days and out again. The thing is we will be on foot, and most children her size if they are in the woods at all travel with ATVs and all the commotion that goes with them. She is a great little hiker, but still is rather small at 45 pounds or so, so I am wondering if she might be at greater risk of attracting the attention of our normally extremely shy Black Bears and Eastern Coyotes? We have an increasing number of fair sized Eastern Coyotes, larger than a western coyote but smaller than an Eastern Wolf, and in fairly small packs. We have many Black Bear also, extremely shy, even more so than the Eastern Coyotes. We have Bobcat and Lynx also, but I should think even a 40 pound child would be too much for them to bother with. My question is, despite the fact that people generally are not attacked by animals around here, how large should a child be before they are safe in the woods, in terms of being big enough not to attract attention of our otherwise very well behaved predators?

2007-06-19, 16:47
She's already a heck of a lot safer walking with you than being anywhere near an ATV. As far as I'm concerned for us hikers in the Northeastern US and the Canadian maritimes, the most dangerous animal is the two-legged variety. I don't see any reason not to take young kids out.

2007-06-19, 16:55
There really aren't enough documented coyote attacks to form useful statistics; only a few attacks a decade. A forty pound child is on the large end of coyote prey. They'd more likely go for babies or toddlers, but they've bitten adults. But that's only in the extreme case of a coyote that's been fed by humans and lost all fear of them.

On the risk scale, she's in much more peril from dogs in your neighborhood.


2007-06-19, 17:48
Just pack heat Bro, that solves the problem, whatever it is. I will occasionally leave the house without a pistol, I will never leave the house with a member of my family (all females) without a pistol. If I lived somewhere this was illegal, I'd break the law until I could move somewhere where it was legal. Don't be a sheep.

2007-06-19, 18:42
Thanks guys. Should be a fun trip.

I see New Hampshire has some nice information on Eastern Coyotes here:

Interesting article from Vermont on "Coy-Wolves" here:

Interesting article on Black Bear predators in Algonquin National Park in Ontario.

2007-06-19, 19:17
Just pack heat Bro, that solves the problem, whatever it is. I will occasionally leave the house without a pistol, I will never leave the house with a member of my family (all females) without a pistol. If I lived somewhere this was illegal, I'd break the law until I could move somewhere where it was legal. Don't be a sheep.I hear you. If I was still single I would say you were a nut case and that things are different up here. But as a father in todays world things aren't so clear. Of course no matter how far down that road you go there will always be people that think you haven't gone far enough, so who are the sheep? It's not like we don't have hand guns up here either, like you say. I know of some old guys that had German Lugers and such since WWII, but they all seem to have given them away after a time. My father kept his fighting knife, and used the same bolt action for deer hunting that he trained with in the war, but he never bothered with hand guns. The other old timers that did seemed to eventually lose interest in that sort of thing. I don't know. They all seemed very capable of making conscious decision in their lives, having seen what they have seen. What have I seen to base any such decision on? Basic training in the 1980s? Weekends with the militia? LOL. Perhaps I'll talk to some local folks I know and respect and see what they have to say on the matter and then make some decisions. More and more armed sheep every day it seems. I wish life could be more simple, like hockey before helmets. Cheers.

p.s. It's nice to hear the old timers opinions on matters such as this, and they are getting rather scarce so we should probably all get out there and talk to them while we still can. Don't trust anyone under 70. ;-)

2007-06-20, 02:00
Bear are usually only a problem if you startle them. If you sing, talk, or wear a bell they normally move away before you even get near them.

Mountain lion are a worry, but attacks are rare. If you keep the kid fairly close you shouldn't have a problem.

Coyote usually only attack small game, rabbit is normally about the largest they go for. Unless you have a small dog I wouldn't worry.

Wolves if you've read my posts on other threads I think you know my feelings about. I don't like them but I wouldn't worry too much about them attacking a kid.

If I were you I'd just keep her in sight, and I wouldn't worry.

2007-06-20, 02:09
This is a first for me, but I agree with everyone so far on this topic. Kids are very safe in the back country. I worry more about them walking four blocks to the school..... But as things go, a bit of precaution is a good thing. We do cougar checks all year. We do not cry "wolf" cause my kids know that I will be ready to throw lead down range in seconds, and no Fing around on this issue. None.

JAK, keep them in sight. I keep mine in sight, teach them to stay put if we get separated. Give them a whistle, a radio, use em...

I am a big fan of having the ability to defend the family while in the home, on the road, or in the woods. My fear has been what if I was to go down when I have only one of the kids with me on any given trip. Stroke, hear attack, aneurysm, major injury. How well have I prepared my kid to be ready for the unknown. Probalby never enough. We spend much of the time readying the kids for those unknowns. Shelter, fire, signalling, navigation. I enjoy sharing these skills with them, before we go out. Then while out, I will abruptly stop and pose the question, what would you do right now if..... a great exercise.....

Take them kids out. Involve them in their own safety, they will really benefit from it.

2007-06-20, 09:27
My thoughts exactly. Thanks.

2007-06-20, 13:08

I'm in NB as well, and also have small children. Most times we go for I hike I give brief attention to concerns similar to yours. I think the others have given you good advice. I try not to let the kids get out of site when hiking in NB. When we have traveled to Alberta I keep them even closer due to the potential presence of grizzlies and cougars. It seems like reports of children being attacked by animals almost always mention that they weren't near the parents.


2007-06-20, 13:57
Utah wildlife officials just killed a (habituated) bear that was believed to have killed an 11 yr old boy who was sleeping in a tent with his parents and another child. Other campers reported a tent attack believed to be the same bear, earlier that day/night that was thwarted by these campers discharging a firearm to drive the bear off. Family of the attacked boy are now trying to sue the DOW for not closing the campground more quickly and warning campers of the earlier attack. I think Colorado DOW policy is to re-locate problem bears to a remote location one time before killing them as nuisance animals. So it is possible to run into a habituated bear in the more remote areas of Colorado (and I use the term "remote" relatively). According to Steve Herrera's book, Black bear attacks are 10x less likely than brown bear attacks (per capita) but black bear attacks are MORE likely to be predatory rather than territorial or defensive i.e.: to protect cubs.
There have been 2 fatal cougar attacks in Colorado in the last 10-15 years. One a boy hiking with his parents who had strayed from them only 10 minutes or so before they began searching for him. The other was a teenaged boy attacked while running cross country practice early in the morning in one of our mountian towns.
My sister's dog was attacked by coyotes while she had it on a leash in a suburban setting within the city limits of Colorado Springs. Coyotes routinely kill foxes here. Two coyotes will tear up a single dog of any size. I've never heard of them attacking a human except as incidental to an attack on a dog.

2007-06-20, 14:55
ZAK, are you in New Brunswick in Canada or New Brunswick in New Jersey? I could better give my 2c's if I knew which one.

But, I completely agree with Iceman's post earlier. Involving your kids in their own safety is one of the best things we parents can teach.

2007-06-20, 21:09
New Brunswick Canada, the other end of the Fundy Footpath from dougmeredith. Hey doug. What is very interesting is how much the behaviour and even the genetics of species like Black Bears and Coyotes vary across the continent. Black Bears in New Brunswick are very different than Black Bears in Northern British Columbia, though they are the same species. Also Eastern Coyotes are the same species as western coyotes, yet very different. In fact Wolves, Dogs, Coyotes, etc. are all the same species really, but vary quite dramatically. What is a species anyways? When does one species end and the other begin? I always say sex is really nobodies business but the two species involved. The other interesting thing is that we never know as much about nature as we think we do, because nature is amazingly complex and variable, and we like to generalize and regurgitate the same over-generalizations over and over. We have to really, otherwise we would either be totally disfunctional or totally insane. I try to manage a healthy balance of both extremes. Cheers all.