If you try to pet a grizzly bear, of pick up a rattle snake, you are not only likely to be attacked, but you are very stupid. Animals are defensive of their homes, and are much more likely to attack if they feel threatened.
Animals that didn’t make the list
Mosquito’s are widely regarded as the most deadly creature on the planet, killing an estimated 3 million people per year, but the mosquito is not the real killer. Malaria is a parasite carried by mosquito’s. Micro-agents such as parasites, viruses, and bacteria are alive and kill millions of humans, but they are not included on this list. Humans are the most deadly animals on the planet. They are also excluded from the list.
Deer can kill people directly, but auto accidents caused by deer kill 130 people per year. Since the deer did not directly kill the person, this is an auto related accidental death.
Bee stings are the largest killer of humans in the U.S. directly caused by animals. An allergic reaction to the venom is bee’s kills 53 people per year. This number is increasing every year due to the aggressive African honey bee that is taking over in Texas.
The Black Widow and Brown Recluse spiders kill 6.5 people per year. They are usually young children that do not get medical attention right away.
Rattlesnakes carry venom that kill 5.5 people per year. Rattlesnake attacks are always defensive. Most rattlesnake related deaths are males between 17 and 27. Alcohol is usually involved which facilitates the venom. I picture a drunk kid on a camping trip trying to mess with the snake, then not seeking medical attention immediately.
Scorpion and centipedes are responsible for 1 death every two years on average. This is due to their remote habitat and inadequate medical care.
Sharks, alligators, and mountain lions are the only U.S. predators that hunt humans in the wild.
The most feared animal is without a doubt the Shark. The Jaws craze has sent a wave of fear across America for the past quarter century. In reality, less that 1 person per year is killed by a shark in the U.S. Hawaii, California, and Florida are the most likely places to be attacked.
While Jaws is purely fictional, two true stories of shark attacks continue to haunt us. 1912 New Jersey attacks killed 5 people over a course of a week. The most amazing thing was that the bull shark responsible for the attacks, traveled up a river and attacked people swimming in a creek 5 miles from the ocean. The other story was actually told in Jaws. The USS Indianapolis was sank in WWII and the survivors were picked off one by one over the next four days by Oceanic White Tip sharks in the open ocean. Of the 900 sailors in the ocean all but 317 were killed.
Mountain Lions are by far the most dangerous land predator in the U.S. While deaths are extremely rare (1 per year) the thought of being stalked, killed, and eaten is horrific. Alligators in Florida have killed 18 people in the last 60 years. The attacks have been increasing in recent years. This increase is attributed to human encroachment into the alligators habitat. Many attacks occur on golf courses, which have been built over drained everglades.
Bear attacks are almost always defensive. Alaska and Yellowstone National Park are the only places in the U.S. where fatal bear attacks usually occur. Grizzly bears are not interested in humans for food except in late fall before hibernation. Less than 1 fatality per year is due to bear attacks.
Pet dogs account for 31 deaths per year in the U.S. The Pit Bull is not a recognized breed of dog. There are many mutts that resemble the pit bull that kill people, so classification is difficult. The Pit bull variety is by far the largest killer of humans, followed by Rottweiler’s and Husky’s. Dozens of different breeds can kill people. Basset Hounds, Beagle’s, Dauschund’s, Labradors, and even Golden retrievers have killed humans.
Wolf deaths usually occur when people bring them home as pets. Three small children have been killed by pet wolves in the past 30 years. In the wild, there has not been a fatal wolf attack in the U.S. since 1888. (Two deaths have occurred in Canada in the past 10 years)
A 12 foot pet Burmese python recently strangled a 2 year old girl to death in Florida. http://www.examiner.com/x-15540-New-Orleans-Top-News-Examiner~y2009m7d1-12-foot-Python-kills-toddler.
While it is rare for a python to kill a human, it can happen, so I included it on this list.
Non Native animal attacks
On rare occasions, attacks can occur at the Zoo, or circus. in 2007 a man was killed by a Tiger at the San Francisco Zoo. There have been a few deaths in the U.S. caused by elephants. The chance of dying from an elephant attack in the U.S. is almost impossible. However, elephants kill over 125 people per year mostly in Africa and India.
This is a bit of a different category because the animals usually do not intend to cause injury or death. Rodeo, equestrian, and bull riding deaths occur infrequently related to how many people are exposed to these animals, but they do happen. An average of 20 people per year are killed in horse related accidents, and 3 people are killed by Bulls.
Average Number of Deaths per Year in the U.S