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  1. #1
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    mtb trail ride at night - will a bright light alone scare off critters?

    I really enjoy mtb trail riding at night. But I was wondering about the nature of trail critters at night. Are most trail critters generally sleeping at night? For the ones that are awake, will they generally run away from a high powered mtb headlight? Or are there any critters who will be drawn to the light and maybe want to attack?

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    My rule for riding at night is if you hear noises, whatever it is, is running away from you.

    If something is after you, you'll never hear it.

    Great piece of mind, right?
    How can anyone who's been riding as long as I have, be so slow???

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    We don't have any dangerous animals near us, but most everything runs away - or at least out of the way. The only things that I have had come right at me in the dark are frickin' European hornets. They're so big and slow they look a little like a moth.

    The coolest thing ever is getting an owl to fly in your light beam.

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  4. #4
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    Early morning, after a good rain, toads come out in full force where I ride gravel. They are drawn to light and jump out in front of the bike. I've seen about 70 toads on one ride. Unfortunately, I've killed about 15.

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    What critters do you think are going to attack you? Where do you live? Have you spent time in nature? 99% of the animals you encounter are mortally terrified of you and would not attack unless cornered. The only animals to worry about are maybe wolves, mountain lions, or bears, and none of those will attack you unless they are very hungry. If animals like that are a legitimate concern where you live, I don't recommend riding alone.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    If animals like that are a legitimate concern where you live, I don't recommend riding alone.
    You don't have to outrun a bear, you just need to outrun your buddy.
    How can anyone who's been riding as long as I have, be so slow???

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    What critters do you think are going to attack you? Where do you live? Have you spent time in nature? 99% of the animals you encounter are mortally terrified of you and would not attack unless cornered. The only animals to worry about are maybe wolves, mountain lions, or bears, and none of those will attack you unless they are very hungry. If animals like that are a legitimate concern where you live, I don't recommend riding alone.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crankout View Post
    I think Picard has a puppet.
    I said this a long time ago.

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  9. #9
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    In a nutshell: Yes... though I do ride faster when I see the eyes of a coyote light up in the bush... and then see his buddy.

    Never be the slowest rider

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    The only thing I worry about are vampires, werewolves, Sasquatch, aliens, and crackheads. I've only ever encountered the latter, but the rest are out there, man.
    It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.

  11. #11
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    I worry about ticks and mosquitoes.
    Do the math.

  12. #12
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    the only animal I would worry about are other humans who might be out there for nefarious reasons...I will not ride our rec trails at night like some people do b/c there are always incidents on the trail, and I think a light makes you a moving target for them...they can see you coming from way far away and plan where to get ya...

    our MTB trails are probably a little safer, but even in the day, on one of our trail systems that are far away from the city, i have encountered suspicious people on the trail, and that weirds me out a bit...
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    Quote Originally Posted by str8edgMTBMXer View Post
    our MTB trails are probably a little safer, but even in the day, on one of our trail systems that are far away from the city, i have encountered suspicious people on the trail, and that weirds me out a bit...
    What makes a person suspicious on the trail?

    We have a low population where I am from and rarely see people on the non popular trail systems.
    Whenever I do encounter anyone, I normally stop and interact.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by titus View Post
    I really enjoy mtb trail riding at night. But I was wondering about the nature of trail critters at night. Are most trail critters generally sleeping at night? For the ones that are awake, will they generally run away from a high powered mtb headlight? Or are there any critters who will be drawn to the light and maybe want to attack?
    Depends on the animal, but most don't want to be close to people so lights will keep them away. Once on when I was doing the Arizona Trail Race 300 I my head lamp lit up a mountain lion. I was 50 yards away on a slow climb and saw his eyes reflecting back to me from my light. He stopped and just stared at me as I rode closer as he was 5 feet off the trail. Then when I got 25 yards away he crossed the trail and moved on. I just rode on past. I was 18 miles from anywhere at 9pm at night alone. So pretty remote and I bet he does not see many people out there after dark. The light stopped him as normally they just run off at any noise or sight, but also drove him off as I got closer. So I was never in any concern for danger. 2 nights before I was riding also about 9pm and heard a rustling sound and an awful smell. I bet it was a Javalina and while I have seen many I could not see this one. I know they can be mean so I just starting climbing faster as the sound was more behind and to the side. I had no desire to stop and investigate.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Rager View Post
    I worry about ticks and mosquitoes.
    Voice of reason.

    Mosquitoes scare the hell out of me.
    "What America needs now is a drink."

    FDR

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by ironhippy View Post
    What makes a person suspicious on the trail?

    We have a low population where I am from and rarely see people on the non popular trail systems.
    Whenever I do encounter anyone, I normally stop and interact.
    smoking pot/drinking; torn, dirty, shabby clothes; aggressive stance or swinging at you as you go by - or - suddenly hiding something in their hands or quickly throwing something into the woods - or - running into the woods ; makeshift sleeping area with garbage strewn around; sitting/standing in a group directly on the trail;

    I have encountered situations like this 3 times in the pact 5 years of riding, and it is pretty obvious what they are doing. I usually report it to the ranger, since the trail is in a state park, but I know that it is usually tweekers trying to find a place to do their thing "away from prying eyes"
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  17. #17
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    Many dangerous and interesting critters are nocturnal. They are not sleeping.

  18. #18
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    I always just trying to make sure and bring someone else along that is slower than me


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  19. #19
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    Moose don’t give a crap whether you have a light or not.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  20. #20
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    A moose once bit my sister...
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  21. #21
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    Once on a night ride we spotted a beaver on the trail. It just waddled back to the river.

    Name:  DSC01673_zpse2753735.jpg
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    On another ride in winter, we saw an opossum beside the trail. It stared at us and turned around and slowly went back into the forest

    mtb trail ride at night - will a bright light alone scare off critters?-15698231_1858646317713144_6348731743983559914_n.jpg

    Another time when I was out for an evening run, I encountered this dog sitting on a box... it just sat there and watched me run by
    mtb trail ride at night - will a bright light alone scare off critters?-15085501_1840260019551774_5914712212357564515_n.jpg
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  22. #22
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    Teehee
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by WHALENARD View Post
    Teehee
    The dog was the creepiest
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    Horse flies, deer flies, etc. Those will chase you and bite you through your clothes. I live where there are rattlesnakes, tarantulas, scorpions, and occasionally mountain lions, but the small, biting insects that chase you and cause you to crash or give you diseases are all that worry me.

    The occasional territorial domestic dog would be a problem too. People don't respect leash laws enough.

  25. #25
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    Lights attract bugs, bugs attract bats. Bats are known for flying into your hair and getting tangled up in it. I don't use lights.
    I brake for stinkbugs

  26. #26
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    I was out riding with my buddies Ginger and Boots the other dayyyyy, we saw an ostrich on the trail.. I kept riding but I didn't see the fellas for a while, they must've stopped for a bit. Never did say what happened *shrug*

  27. #27
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    ^^^ scary. You're not gonna outrun them.

    Do the math.

  28. #28
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    The opportunity to spot and briefly observe critters is just one of the benefits of night riding. I have experienced owls follow and cross my lighted path, armadillos, feral hogs, deer, foxes, skunks, bobcats...

    Night riding is a completely different realm of riding that you might have never experienced.
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  29. #29
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    Fair question OP and I don't have that answer.

    I'll advise that my first few night rides were by handle bar mount and I soon realized a 2nd lamp and helmet mount would be a great addition.
    The problem ?

    With that directional lamp on your bean, be prepared to see all kinds of eyes glowing back at you from the woods, fields or tree line. Among our rides, we are on fs roads, jeep tracks or trails along the 8000 - 9000 ft elevation.
    ie: somebody else's backyard.
    "Before you criticize, you should walk a mile in their shoes. You'll be a mile away from them and you have their shoes"

  30. #30
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    I once stopped at a nice river setting to get good and safe. All of a sudden there was this helluva commotion about 40 feet up in a tree. I'm really familiar with all kinds of forest and animal sounds and this was really out of place. Scared the ever living crap out of me and my sensory input worked overtime to try & rationalize all the hullabaloo. Once the dust settled it turned out to be a turkey I probably startled trying to take flight out of a tree above me. I've never seen a turkey up in a tree before, damn clumsy abomination. It was at this point in time I fully grasped the term jive ass turkey.
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    "jive ass turkey" lmfao!!!

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    That's a great story Whale!
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  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by titus View Post
    "jive ass turkey" lmfao!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Cornfield View Post
    That's a great story Whale!
    True story, Wild Turkeys roost in trees.
    Quote Originally Posted by mileslong View Post
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  34. #34
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    Ha Ha - Thanks for the laughs.
    That story was an exciting build up in just a few sentences. Well done !! My heart is still racing.
    "Before you criticize, you should walk a mile in their shoes. You'll be a mile away from them and you have their shoes"

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoePAz View Post
    Once on when I was doing the Arizona Trail Race 300 I my head lamp lit up a mountain lion. I was 50 yards away on a slow climb and saw his eyes reflecting back to me from my light. He stopped and just stared at me as I rode closer as he was 5 feet off the trail. Then when I got 25 yards away he crossed the trail and moved on. I just rode on past. I was 18 miles from anywhere at 9pm at night alone.
    Is that why you let me get ahead of you heading up Martinez canyon?


    OP, I don't think you need to worry about critters being drawn to your bike light to attack. The vast majority want nothing to do with you and will make an escape as soon as they're aware of your presence. The only thing that worries me is startling a bear or a moose, which could provoke an aggressive response. But that could just as easily happen during daytime. I've heard javalinas can be aggressive too, but the ones I've seen have all scattered soon as they saw me...just don't corner one, I guess. Mtn lions will probably avoid you. If they want to stalk you, you won't see them coming - and that is about as likely has getting hit by lightning, so not something to lose a lot of sleep over - same with encountering wolves. A lot of this depends on where you live and what creatures live where you ride. In Socal where I live rattlers and lions are the main animal species to be concerned with. But to be honest I am more concerned with things like ticks and poison oak.

  36. #36
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    Speak of riding up on some Javalina's...

    I have never come across Javalina's on a night ride, but I did have this rare opportunity to see these guys in daylight.

    mtb trail ride at night - will a bright light alone scare off critters?-img_2327-i-crop.jpg mtb trail ride at night - will a bright light alone scare off critters?-img_2329-iii-resize.jpg

    mtb trail ride at night - will a bright light alone scare off critters?-img_2330-003-resize.jpg
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  37. #37
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    I know you're half joking, but I got in the mouth with a bat at high speed one night, years back. Disgusting. I thought these idiots had built in radar...

    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    Lights attract bugs, bugs attract bats. Bats are known for flying into your hair and getting tangled up in it. I don't use lights.

  38. #38
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    I can tell you that the lights will not scare off skunks. I've crossed paths with them at 24 hour races....
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  39. #39
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    I rode last night in total darkness for about 6 miles on a blue/black'ish trail. I saw a rabbit who didn't "spook" until I was right on top of him. Given the light intensity from two Bright Eyes 1600 lumens (one on bike w/diffuser & one on helmet with spotlight glass), I don't think it is enough to really scare away anything. I would guess it does the opposite and actual causes curiosity in animals, especially predators.

    Here's what it looks like:
    mtb trail ride at night - will a bright light alone scare off critters?-moon.jpg

    And yes, this is one of the spots that I motor'ed on through. Steep hill, three stout limbed trees overhanging the trail... You can find the whole report nested here:

    https://forums.mtbr.com/california-n...s-1114097.html

    We definitely have mountain lions in our area with routine sightings annually. Day riding also indicates bear and coyote scat and I often find mangled corpses of deer / other medium / small mammals. I would be lying if I said there weren't a few sections I sped through pretty fast knowing that if I was going to get ambushed, that would be exactly where it would occur.

    Not sure why, but my mind kept reflecting on this pic I snapped earlier in the year ...

    mtb trail ride at night - will a bright light alone scare off critters?-skellu.jpg

    It an be a bit scary, and probably dumb as well, solo, but I still do it
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  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by str8edgMTBMXer View Post
    smoking pot/drinking; torn, dirty, shabby clothes; aggressive stance
    Sounds like ~75% of the mountain bikers I know
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  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    Sounds like ~75% of the mountain bikers I know
    true...

    but these guys did not have bikes near them..it was pretty obvious what they were doing...
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    Light messes with deer behavior big time. I’ve had a few close calls, mostly at dusk.

    Bats/rabies. I’d get medical advice if a bat got tangled in my face/mouth. Believe if you do nothing, by the time you have symptoms…… it’s game over and you die.
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  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by evdog View Post
    Is that why you let me get ahead of you heading up Martinez canyon?
    But did you die? Ha...
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  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Finch Platte View Post
    I said this a long time ago.

    Titus=Ritard.
    Stop using my name. It is copyright capiche!

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  45. #45
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    about the only thing that gives me the willys riding at nite when I am alone is the sound of dog(s). irrational as they not likely to take on something as big as a human but it still freaks me out.

    Now that it is beginning of hunting season, the biggest threat is hunters.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Turd View Post
    Light messes with deer behavior big time. I’ve had a few close calls, mostly at dusk.

    Bats/rabies. I’d get medical advice if a bat got tangled in my face/mouth. Believe if you do nothing, by the time you have symptoms…… it’s game over and you die.
    I had one dive bomb my head and touch my hair about 6 months ago. I never sought medical attention and I’m still kicking. I couldn’t believe he actually did this. I always thought the hair thing was an old wives tale.
    Quote Originally Posted by mileslong View Post
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  47. #47
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    "The incubation period of rabies in humans is generally 20–60 days. However, fulminant disease can become symptomatic within 5–6 days; more worrisome, in 1%–3% of cases the incubation period is >6 months. Confirmed rabies has occurred as long as 7 years after exposure, but the reasons for this long latency are unknown."
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  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jetta2010 View Post
    aNow that it is beginning of hunting season, the biggest threat is hunters.
    At night?
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  49. #49
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    Only in a very few specific circumstances is hunting at night allowed. In those cases, I would think your lights would clue in the hunters that you're not game or varmints...well maybe varmints, but not the legally shootable kind.
    Do the math.

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    At night?
    I know a lot of hunters. Most of them hunt at night. I don't see what's surprising about that.

  51. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by str8edgMTBMXer View Post
    smoking pot/drinking; torn, dirty, shabby clothes; aggressive stance or swinging at you as you go by - or - suddenly hiding something in their hands or quickly throwing something into the woods - or - running into the woods ; makeshift sleeping area with garbage strewn around; sitting/standing in a group directly on the trail;

    I have encountered situations like this 3 times in the pact 5 years of riding, and it is pretty obvious what they are doing. I usually report it to the ranger, since the trail is in a state park, but I know that it is usually tweekers trying to find a place to do their thing "away from prying eyes"
    ohio is getting that bad, huh? sounds like what i deal with in golden gate park.

  52. #52
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    Most critters just run away from the light. I see a lot of whitetail deer and they are either running away or staring at the light like dummies. One issue I had at night was two German Shepherds chased me for a minute until I got far enough away from the farm the were from. Bugs are the worst thing at night and also those spiders and webs across the face.

  53. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by DIRTJUNKIE View Post
    I always thought the hair thing was an old wives tale.

    It is. It was just going after a bug that you were attracting.
    I brake for stinkbugs

  54. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    I know a lot of hunters. Most of them hunt at night. I don't see what's surprising about that.
    More that I'd be surprised if they were hunting something that wears a headlight.
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  55. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    I know a lot of hunters. Most of them hunt at night. I don't see what's surprising about that.
    I am a hunter. It's not legal except for a very few specific situations. The typical rule is you may hunt only between 1/2 hour before sunrise until 1/2 hr after sunset. Some states publish sunrise and sunset tables to the minute to eliminate any uncertainty.

    That doesn't stop you from camping, hiking in (or riding sometimes in my case), establishing a position in a blind or anything else outside those hours. You just can't take game outside those hours.
    Do the math.

  56. #56
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    I have surprised two animals riding in the dark that worried me. One was a raccoon who ended up running beside me across a bridge as I desperately tried to keep him from getting tangled up in my bike. The other was a skunk who was running down the path in front of me. Thankfully, he turned off the path. No deer, bears, or mountain lions thus far, though I am hoping if that does ever happen it is from a distance. I call out when I get close to that bridge every time so critters know I'm coming. ;-)

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