As humans have expanded and spread throughout the Earth, we’ve replaced wild habitats with roads and buildings. The destruction of wildlife ecosystems has forced animals of all kinds out of their homes, causing species to fight over territory and food and sometimes even leading wildlife to wonder back to our developed areas. This begs the questions, what are the odds of you meeting your match against a wild critter? Well, it turns out that is largely dependent on your location.
Man vs. Beast compiled data collected by the CDC into a map of the U.S. It outlines which animals can be considered a threat to human life in what states. Though your mind might jump straight to lions, tigers, and bears, it’s more often the unexpected creatures that’ll get you!
One primary factor to consider is incidental death, meaning an animal may have been involved in an incident that resulted in the death of a human, but that doesn’t mean the animal intentionally attacked and killed the person. For example, deer are the deadliest animal in all of the United States. But, we all know Bambi doesn’t have sharp teeth and talons. The majority of deer-related human deaths were actually car accidents where the animal appeared seemingly out of nowhere in the middle of the road, causing drivers to lose control of their vehicles.
Looking at the chart above, we can make a similar case for our runner-up deadliest animals: the bees, wasps, and hornets. Though these stinging insects are poisonous, the small amount of toxins that they pump out through their stingers are not enough to cause more than painful swelling in a typical human. However, those with allergies to these poisons can find these stings to be fatal, often needing immediate medical attention or an EpiPen to prevent the worst.
The odds of a wild animal being the thing to take you out, especially in the U.S., are already miniscule. However, those odds do increase depending on what state you’re in. Those living in Massachusetts may have to deal with hornets and bees more, but they are sitting pretty compared to those facing attacks from much larger mammals in Montana.
However, as scary as some of these unfamiliar animals may seem, humans actually rank as the number 2 deadliest creature on Earth, right after the stealthy, disease-carrying mosquitoes. For such a small insect to be deadlier to mankind than mankind itself, it’s definitely worth being aware and taking precautions. Mosquitoes frequently go undetected, potentially transmitting any number of horrible diseases, the most recent being the Zika virus. Though there is yet to be a case of a person being infected with Zika within the continental United States, experts worry that, due to its unceasing spread, it may only be a matter of time.
After mosquitoes and humans themselves, the animals in the above chart are ones to stay far away from at whatever cost. Snakes are our third most deadly creature, with the Asian cobra in the lead with almost 20,000 more annual deaths than the Puff Adder snake. The cobra, which is predominantly found in tropical Asia, can range from 4 to 7 feet long and feasts on small mammals. Though they don’t usually attack humans except during mating season, their poison is neurotoxic, causing death in as soon as 15 minutes after being bitten.
Though you may fear these dangerous animals now more than ever, wildlife typically will leave you alone if they are left alone. Respect nature’s animals because we are guests on this planet just as they are and every species, including humans, has equal claim to this kingdom. A wild animal’s instinct is to hunt, protect, and ultimately survive, so though they are dangerous just as humans are, the should not be vilified as a whole because of this.