Wildlife Hazards on Campus

While the Lamont Campus is a very safe place as far as crime is concerned, there are a number of "natural" hazards of which you should be aware. The purpose of this document is to alert you of these wildlife hazards so that your visit here on the campus is a safe and pleasant one. Also, importantly, please be sure to share this information with any visitors you have to the campus so that they too are aware of these hazards. Thank you. (Note click on the associated link to view a photograph of the particular hazard.)


Snakes - There are 3 species of snakes which you may encounter in your travels through the campus. You should know that snakes being cold blooded will often seek the warmth of the su n on cool days, and will similarly seek the cool of the shade when the temperatures get hotter. Remember too that snakes can and climb, so be mndful of them in shrubs and trees. Also, occasionally, snakes have entered buildings, so please do not leave exterior doors open, and report snakes you see inside a building to the Safety Office (dial 0 or call 845-359-2900).

  • Black Rat Snake - as the name suggests, the snake is black in color. This snake is fairly common and while its bite will hurt, it is non poisonous. You should seek medical attention if you are bitten. http://www.snake-removal.com/blackratsnake.html
  • Copperhead Snake and Timber Rattle Snake - these poisonous snakes are very similar in appearance, with the major difference being that the Timber Rattle Snake has a “rattle” on its tail and is more rarely seen. Both have a copper colored head and pinkish-tan color superimposed on darker brown pattern The head is angular, like an arrow point. If you are bitten, call 911 and remember to direct the responder to take you to Nyack Hospital as they have the anti-venom. http://www.venombyte.com/venom/snakes/northern_copperhead.asp

Snapping Turtles - You may encounter these turtles throughout the campus, however, they are mainly in the vicinity of the pond. Snapping turtles are extremely dangerous as they can easily take a finger off with a bite, and they can strike very quickly. Should you encounter a snapping turtle crossing the roadway, you should slow down on-coming traffic to allow the turtle to safely pass.



Coyotes - Coyotes resemble a German Shepherd dog. They can be aggressive and therefore should not be approached. If, however, you are approached by an aggressive coyote and cannot readily get to shelter, you should raise your hands high in the air and make loud noises which ought to scare them off. Promptly report any such interaction to the Safety Office (dial 0 or 845-359-2900)



Geese – Geese may be found around the campus at any time of the year; however, they can be particularly aggressive during the spring when they are protecting their nesting territories. Should you be attacked by an aggressive goose you should maintain direct eye contact and keep your body pointed in the direction of the goose and slowly back away in a neutral demeanor (do not show hostility or fear). Report any such interaction to the Safety Office so that we may investigate and place signage to alert others of a nesting area.



Bears - It is not unusual to see a Black Bear in this region. Bears are foragers, and quiet comfortable rooting through human garbage for scraps of food. So managing our garbage on campus is extremely important. We use a garbage compactor on the campus to keep garbage out of reach of wildlife. However, we do not have custodial services on campus over weekends and holidays. So if you generate bags of garbage on campus from a picnic or party, you must take it with you when you leave.

If you are outside and see a bear at distance, just stay quiet and let it go about its business. Never approach a bear and NEVER get between a mother bear and her cubs. If you are on a trail and a bear approaches you, identify yourself as human by allowing the bear to see and hear you. The bear should divert its direction and avoid you as they are morely likely to be more afraid of you than you are of them. Startled bears will often confront intruders by making woofing and teeth clacking sounds, salivate, lay their ears back and slap the ground with their paws. These are warnings for you to leave the area. In such a situation, backing away while keeping an eye on the bear usually addresses the animal's concern about your proximity to it. If a black bear does charge, Stand Your Ground - Do NOT Run. Black bears often "bluff charge", and you cannot outrun a bear. Throwing away a knapsack or camera bag may distract a bear long enough for you to make a safe exit.

If you believe you are going to be attacked by a black bear, the conventional wisdom is to make yourself as big and frightening as possible by raising your arms over your head and yelling loudly. If a black bear really does attack there are two schools of though on responding:

1. Fight Back. There is no physical way you can win a fight with a black bear, so the fighting would simply be a way to try to deter the bear into thinking that the fight just isn't worth the energy...if you can, go for the bear's nose as it is most sensitive.

2. Play Dead. Since black bears generally attack because they feel threatened, it is believed that playing dead will make you "nonthreatening" and convince the bear to back off. Try to protect back of your neck with your hands as you lay on the ground, face down or on side, curled up into ball.

If you see a bear on campus or in the surrounding woodlands, please contact the LDEO Safety/Security Office by dialing 0 from any LDEO phone (or 845-359-2900 from your cellphone) so that we can alert others. Remember: Bear attacks are extremeley rare, so don't be overly concerned.



Other Wild Animals - There are a number of other wild animals on campus which could act aggressive due to being ill, or having rabies. All animals are likely to bite out of fear if trapped. You should understand that typically, a healthy animal will do its best to avoid humans. Therefore, if you should be approached by an animal, such as fox, raccoon, skunk, rabbit, squirrel, or even a chipmunk, (particularly one that is normally nocturnal such as a raccoon or skunk) you should move away quickly and contact the Safety Office (dial 0 or call 845.359.2900) to apprise them of the situation.



Bees - You should be especially careful of bees nesting. Oftentimes they will nest in the ground (particularly on the hillside along the staircase, behind Geoscience) or in a tree or building overhang. If you see a bees nest, you should stay clear, and then contact the Safety Office (dial 0 or call 845-359-2900). Because bee sting allergies can be built up in individuals by successive stings, one cannot assume that, having been stung before with no allergic reaction, one is still not allergic, and one should best seek aid in case an allergic reaction ensues.


Ticks - Ticks could be encountered when you are walking off the paved trails. Ticks are potentially dangerous should you be bitten by one as they could transmit Lyme disease or other viral infections. If you walk on the grass areas, or hike along any of the trails around the campus you should check yourself for ticks and if bitten, seek medical attention. A tick bite MAY be indicated by a more-or-less circular red “bulls eye circle” around the bite. Immediate medical attention should be sought if you have been bitten by a tick or notice a “bulls eye circle”. http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/toolkit


Spiders - Most all spiders can bite and spider bites can be painful. One particular spider, the Brown Recluse, although, not confirmed to be on campus, has been found in this region and its bite is particularly dangerous as it dissolves human tissue. If you are bitten by a spider, you should try to capture it in a bag or cup which will assist greatly in the treatment, then seek medical attention. 




Poisonous Vegetation - Poison Ivy is widespread on the campus and it takes various forms, either as a shrub, ground cover, or tree climber. Often it is concealed, growing alongside the five leafed Virginia Creeper vine. One very tell tale sign of the plant though is that there are tiny "root hairs" along the stem which is what allows the plant to climb/creep. Also, the compound leaves of poison ivy consist of three pointed leaflets; the middle leaflet has a much longer stalk than the two side ones. The leaflet edges can be smooth or toothed, sometimes lobed. The leaves vary greatly in size, from 8 to 55 mm (0.31" to 2.16") in length. They are reddish when they emerge in the spring, turn green during the summer, and become various shades of yellow, orange or red in the autumn. Poison-ivy vines, stems, and roots are still poisonous in autumn after loss of the leaves, as well as throughout the winter.