Wild kingdom

Texas roars to No. 1 on wild list of states with biggest risk of being killed by an animal

Texas roars to No. 1 for states with risk of being killed by an animal

Houston, shark, July 2017
Death by shark in Texas? It could happen. Photo via Wikipedia Commons

Fear the deer. While Bambi and her pals may look adorable, deer contribute heavily to Texas’ ranking as the No. 1 state for deaths caused by animals.

data analysis by Outforia, a website dedicated to outdoor adventures, shows Texas recorded 520 human deaths caused by animals from 1999 to 2019. That works out to 26 such deaths each year. Outforia pulled the data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

California ranks second, with 299 deaths during the 20-year period, even though California is the most populous state in the country, followed by Texas.

Outforia identifies brown bears, sharks, snakes, black bears, and alligators as causing the most deaths in animal attacks since 1970. However, other types of animals likely have triggered more human deaths in Texas, partly because bears aren’t all that common in the Lone Star State. Plus, not all fatal confrontations with animals can be classified as “attacks.”

The New York Post suggests that a significant number of deadly run-ins with animals in Texas can be attributed to collisions between deer and cars, along with dog and livestock encounters. In fact, deer must bear the blame for the most animal-inflicted deaths in the country, followed by bees and wasps, according to Outforia.

Among the states, Texas racked up the highest number of traffic deaths (197) due to collisions with animals from 2010 to 2019, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

study published in 2019 by researchers at the University of Texas tallied 51,522 animal-related traffic crashes in the state from 2010 through 2016. Collisions with wildlife, such as deer, accounted for almost two-thirds of the crashes, while collisions with domestic animals like dogs and cattle represented nearly one-third. 

Outforia didn’t categorize deaths by animal in Texas or any other state.

“The natural world is filled with wonders, from cascading waterfalls to verdant forests, and is a precious part of our planet that should be protected and experienced in equal measure,” Outforia says. “However, while our natural environment is often put under threat from human activity, the danger goes both ways. Humans are not invulnerable to the hazards of the natural world, and every year people lose their lives in encounters with wild predators.”

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