Mountain lions, rattlesnakes, hogs, bobcats, spiders and other such wildlife are a natural part of this region's environment. Please practice safe hiking habits, such as: hiking with another person, keeping your children close, keeping your pets restrained, and always being cautious and aware of your surroundings. Some of the wildlife are most active after dusk, so please stay on the trails and leave the park before sunset.
If you do happen to come upon a mountain lion, here is some information on what to do and not do:
- Do not approach a lion. Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
- Do not run from a lion. Running may stimulate a mountain lion’s instinct to chase. Instead, stand and face the animal. Make eye contact. If you have small children with you, pick them up if possible so that they don’t panic and run. Although it may be awkward, pick them up without bending over or turning away from the mountain lion.
- Do not crouch down or bend over. A human standing up is just not the right shape for a lion’s prey. Conversely, a person squatting or bending over resembles a four-legged prey animal. In mountain lion country, avoid squatting, crouching or bending over, even when picking up children.
- Do all you can to appear larger. Raise your arms. Open your jacket if you are wearing one. Again, pick up small children. Throw stones, branches, or whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice. The idea is to convince the mountain lion that you are not prey and that you may be a danger to the animal.
- Fight back if attacked. A hiker in southern California used a rock to fend off a mountain lion that was attacking his son. Others have fought back successfully with sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools and their bare hands. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the attacking animal.
If you happen to come upon a snake, here is some information on what to do an not do:
- Please do not kill a snake - even a venomous one. Snakes do not prey on humans and they will not chase you, in fact they usually retreat or escape if given the opportunity. The danger comes when they are either surprised or cornered. The majority of bites result from people taking unnecessary or foolish risks with venomous snakes.
- Freeze when snakes are known to be nearby until you know where they are. Allow the snake to retreat. If you must move, back slowly and carefully away from the snake.
- Do not play around with a dead snake, they have been known to bite and inject venom because of muscle contractions.
- Be careful when stepping over fallen logs and rock outcroppings and take care along creek banks and underbrush. Snakes like tall grass. Animal burrows make excellent habitat for snakes-don't reach in without first checking.
- Wear heavy footwear, snake proof trousers, leggings or boots-this will help reduce your risk of snake bites.
For more information on trail safety and wildlife encounters, visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.