St. John's College is located in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, near thousands of acres of national forest. This location provides guests with wonderful outdoor opportunities and sometimes exciting wildlife viewing. However, to keep everyone safe and sound, please note the following:
- Our most frequent wild visitors, aside from birds, butterflies, bunnies, and lizards, are the sometimes less desirable furry friends, mice. The best way to keep mice and other unwanted rodents out of your dorm is to keep the front door closed. Also, it’s a good idea to close your balcony door, especially when you aren’t there. If you are visited by mice more than is comfortable, let us know and we’ll get traps set immediately.
- Spiders are our friends, so let us know if we need to move one for you! However, do be aware of black widow spiders as they are poisonous. These are seldom inside, usually found under rocks or logs. They have a thick irregular web on the ground and are round, very shiny black with a red hour-glass on their bellies. See here for more.
- We have had occasional bear sightings on campus. Mountain lions and coyotes may also pass through. Please do NOT leave food outside and make sure trash can lids are tightly closed.
The chances of an encounter with a dangerous wild animal on or near campus are very low. As you are hiking around on the trails near campus, be aware of your surroundings, make noise, and be familiar with the following:
- Make noise as you walk as most animals will run away before you even see them.
- Black bears: stay calm, don’t run, slowly retreat or make a wide detour around it. Avoid eye contact. Never get between a mother bear and her cubs. Bear attacks are rare, but if a bear does attack, fight back using anything you can (rocks, sticks, bare hands), and aim for the bear’s nose and eyes.
- Rattlesnakes: stop immediately and make no movements. If you're far enough away that it didn't see you and isn't rattling, turn around and run. If you're too close (remember they can strike a distance of half their body length), stay still like a statue and sloooowly back away in tiny, barely visible steps. Quick wits, slow movements!
- Mountain lions are primarily nocturnal. If you encounter one, don't look away and don't run away. Try to stay calm, but make lots of noise and make yourself look as big as you can. Move your arms around to look bigger. If it attacks, don't play dead; fight as hard as you can with everything you've got.
These tips are really for a “just in case” situation; you might be most startled by a student just waking up and coming outside in the middle of the day. Enjoy campus, be safe, and be prepared!
For more on safe hiking, see http://www.stjohnscollege.edu/resources/SFCS/Wilderness_Safety_Information.pdf for a short memo from the Atalaya Search and Rescue.
Information on forest fires and National Forest fire restrictions, and city of Santa Fe fire restrictions.
Click here for the Dale Ball Trails guide.
Information on Bed Bugs.