What to do when you come across these wild WV animals

CLARKSBURG, West Virginia (wboy) — Wild and Wonderful West Virginia is a great place to see wildlife, but there are certain ways to handle wild animals that everyone from nature enthusiasts to city dwellers should know about. In general, the best thing to do if you encounter wild animals is to leave them alone, but there are some cases where interaction with them is necessary, either for your safety or theirs.


Timber rattlesnake (Courtesy: Peter Paplanus via Wiki Commons)

West Virginia only has two species of snake to worry about, although the others can still bite. In general, the best thing to do if you see a snake is to leave it alone. Make sure you don’t get within striking distance of a copperhead or rattlesnake.

Copperhead (Courtesy: Wilafa via Wiki Commons)

If you are bitten by a copperhead or rattlesnake, the National Park Service recommends the following steps:

  • Get away from the snake. Rattlesnakes and copperheads can strike at a distance equal to about half their body length, and can bite more than once. Do not try to kill or capture the snake.
  • Keep calm; Do not panic.
  • Look for signs of poisoning: severe burning pain at the bite site, swelling that begins within five minutes of the bite and progresses to the extremity, discoloration, and blood-filled blisters that develop over 6 to 48 hours. In at least 25% of bites, venom is not injected.
  • If there are immediate symptoms, get help right away.
  • Send someone for help; Call 911.
  • Try to keep the affected limb lowered below the victim’s heart.
  • Keep the victim as cool and calm as possible; the activity can increase the absorption of the venom.
  • Seek medical help even if there is no immediate reaction. All bites can cause infection and should be treated by a doctor.
  • NOT use a tourniquet, which can cause severe damage if too tight.
  • NOT use cold or ice; it does not inactivate the poison and can cause frostbite.
  • NOT try to cut the bite or suck out the poison; the cut can damage blood vessels and nerves.
  • NOT Consume alcoholic beverages, which can dilate the vessels and aggravate the shock.

If you need to move a snake that is in your house, Wildlife Help offers advice here.

box turtles

Box turtles are a wild animal that most people are excited to see. Because box turtles move so slowly, it’s common to find them in the middle of the trail. If you are going to rescue a box turtle from being hit by a car, there are some very specific steps you need to take so that the turtle can continue on its way safely.

  1. Support under the turtle when picking it up. A turtle’s shell is part of its body, so if you pick it up by the sides, it’s the equivalent of being picked up by just the skin on your back. Instead, be sure to support under the turtle’s belly. You should pick up the turtle the same way you would pick up a hamburger or a large sandwich: fingers supporting the bottom and thumbs resting lightly on top of the shell.
  2. Lay the turtle on the ground facing the same direction as when you picked it up. Box turtles don’t have the best sense of direction; therefore, if you place them with their back to the road or in a different direction than they were originally going, they are likely to get lost. If that turtle was headed for a food or water source, it could never get there if you don’t point it in the right direction.

Whenever you are rescuing a box turtle, be sure to put their safety first; never stop on the side of the road or walk onto the road if you cannot do so safely.

Also, remember that you should never keep a box turtle as a pet. This it is illegal to keep most native reptiles and amphibians as petsincluding eastern box turtles.

snapping turtles

Unless you have a snapping turtle to help, this is one species you might want to leave alone. Unlike box turtles, snapping turtles bite you and can do a lot of damage. If you find one of these along the way, after you can safely stop, try to push the turtle out of the way from behind with a blunt object.

According to the Mon River Trail ConservationIf you don’t see a real-life snapping turtle, you may also be able to find remnants of snapping turtle nests in areas in north central West Virginia, such as the Mon River Trails. According to the conservancy, snapping turtles lay eggs in trail ballast and hatchlings will emerge 55-125 days later, unless the eggs are predated on, which is the case in most nests.


Encountering deer, in general, is a fairly common occurrence in West Virginia. However, the real confusion can arise if your car sees the deer before you do. If you hit a deer with your vehicle, here are the steps you should take, according to Wildlife Help.

  • Pull over in a safe place and turn on your emergency lights.
  • Call emergency services if your vehicle is too damaged to drive.
  • Stay away from deer. If he is still alive, he will be scared and confused, and you could be hurt.
  • Notify the police if the deer or your vehicle is in a location that could endanger other drivers.
  • If in doubt, call 911 or ask responders for information and advice.

black bears

The recent population of black bears is on the rise, which means you are more likely to see one. According to the West Virginia Extension office, in 1970, black bears could only be found regularly in 10 counties and the estimated population was less than 500. Over the past 50 years, many positive steps have allowed for healthy growth in the bear population. from West Virginia.

According to the West Virginia Department of CommerceHere are the steps you should take if you encounter a bear:

  • Keep calm.
  • NOT approach a bear
  • NOT run away from a bear
  • NOT climb trees to escape a bear.
  • Give the bear a clear escape route.
  • Back off quietly and leave the area.
  • If you are attacked, counterattack immediately.

He National Park Service He said you should never play dead if attacked by a black bear. Direct punches and kicks at the bear’s face and use any weapon such as rocks, branches or to bear spray to defend you

Make sure you never feed the black bears.


There are only two types of venomous spiders in West Virginia that can seriously harm people. Black widows and brown recluses are very small and can be deadly, especially to young children. If you are bitten by one of these spiders, you should seek medical attention.

Black widows are native to West Virginia and are easily recognized by the red hourglass shape on their abdomens. They are not aggressive and rarely bite humans. Brown recluse spiders are not native to West Virginia, but can be found in some southwestern counties.

For the most part, as long as you leave the spiders alone, they won’t attack you. While there are other scary spider species, such as the much larger fish spider, bites from other spiders can be treated by washing the area, applying an ice pack, and taking ibuprofen.


No one wants to think about it, but if you spend any time outdoors, especially around woods or tall plants, you’re more likely to encounter a tick than anything else. The most common tick in West Virginia is an American dog tick, which can carry Lyme disease. Deer ticks and lone star ticks are also native, according to the WVU Extension Office.

Using insect repellent can help prevent ticks, but if you spend time outdoors, you should check for ticks regularly. If you find a mark that is already attached, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends removing the tick with tweezers by pulling upward with constant pressure. Be sure to remove the mouth part of the tick, and then clean the affected area with rubbing alcohol. Do not crush the tick and dispose of it by flushing it down the toilet.

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