From Spiders to Bears, These 10 States Have the Most Deadly Animal Attacks

Most Americans don’t fear that a deadly animal could attack them every time they leave their homes. However, dangerous animals coexist with humans across the United States.

These are the states where residents have a relatively higher chance of losing their lives at the “paws” of one of them.

Analyzing the Data

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Outdoor resource Outforia combed through Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data to determine the number of fatal attacks on humans caused by animals in the 20-year period between 1999 and 2019. They narrowed down their search by looking at some of the most dangerous predators in North America.

1: Texas

Cowboy herding cows.
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Texas had the most animal-caused human deaths in the country, with 520 fatalities. Several dangerous animals call Texas home, including black widow spiders, water moccasin snakes, alligators, and sharks.

2: California

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Two hundred ninety-nine human fatalities occurred in California over a 20-year period, making California the second most dangerous state for deadly animals. According to Animal Capture Wildlife Control, six rattlesnake species live in California, all of which are venomous.

3: Florida

Areal view of Florida.
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With headlines like a 2-year-old boy passing away from an alligator attack at Disney World, it might not come as a surprise to Floridians that they live in one of the top three deadliest states for animal encounters. Nearly 250 people passed away from an animal between 1999 and 2019.

4: North Carolina

Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina.
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From the ocean to the mountains, there are enough dangerous animals in North Carolina to warrant its place on this list. Copperhead snakes, black bears, and brown recluse spiders are some of several deadly animals that contributed to 180 human deaths over a 20-year period in the Tar Heel State.

5: Tennessee

Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee.
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Tennessee is neck and neck with North Carolina in an unwanted way. One hundred seventy people lost their lives due to animals between 1999 and 2019. Timber rattlesnakes are one of the four venomous snakes in Tennessee, and their bite can constrict breathing due to swelling in the throat and mouth, along with creating nausea and a plethora of other symptoms.

6: Georgia

Live oak trees in Savannah, Georgia.
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Venomous snakes are some of the most dangerous animals in Georgia, contributing to the animals that took 161 human lives over a 20-year period. Diamondback and Copperhead snakes are some of the most dangerous. Wearing boots and long pants can reduce the chance of their venom making it through to your skin when you’re walking in forested areas.

7: Ohio

Ash Cave in Ohio.
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Ohio tied with Georgia for having 161 animal-related human fatalities between 1999 and 2019. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Northern Copperhead is the most venomous snake species in Ohio. Furthermore, although black bears became temporarily extinct in Ohio, their population is increasing, and they can pose life-threatening situations if provoked.

8: Pennsylvania

Aerial view of barns and fields in Pennsylvania countryside.
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One hundred forty-eight people died due to an animal during the 20-year period the CDC studied. While the larger animals we’ve covered here most commonly come to Americans’ minds when they think of losing their life to an animal, an insect as small as a tick can be the cause. Deer ticks can carry the Powassan virus, which can enter a human within 15 minutes of a bite and has a 12% mortality rate.

9: Michigan

Path through a forest.
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From gray wolves to widow spiders, deadly animals lurk in Michigan regardless of the season. The Great Lake State had 138 people lose their lives due to animals between 1999 and 2019.

10: New York

Orchard in New York during sunset.
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It’s unlikely you’ll die at the paws or claws of an animal roaming around New York City. But Upstate New York has lots of wilderness, offering homes to timber rattlesnakes, wolves, and bees. Approximately 100 Americans die annually from bee stings, often as a result of anaphylactic shock from an allergic reaction.

The Flip Side

Canal in Delaware.
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Delaware, North Dakota, and Rhode Island tie for being the states with the fewest number of human fatalities caused by animals. All three states recorded zero deaths between 1999 and 2019. New Hampshire comes in fourth place, with ten animal-instigated human fatalities.

Debunking the Shark Myth

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Many humans fear sharks, but statistically, you’re more likely to lose your life driving to the beach than swimming in it. The Florida Museum of Natural History determined that 69 unprovoked shark bites occurred in 2023 across the globe, and 10 people passed away from them. Nevertheless, that represents a small increase over the five-year average.

As For Alligators

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There’s a reason you’re more likely to see alligator warning signs around Florida than shark signs; between 1948 and 2021, 401 unprovoked alligator attacks occurred. Of them, 25 were fatal. Feeding alligators is illegal in Florida because it can cause an alligator to associate humans with food, potentially causing them to attack someone if the animal is hungry.

Small Packages

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Mosquitos are the deadliest animal on the planet, taking approximately 725,000 human lives each year. These insects can do far more harm than cause itchy skin; they can carry several diseases, including West Nile virus, dengue, and Zika.

Runners Up

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Humans are the second deadliest animal on Earth, causing 400,000 fatalities among our species each year. Snakes are the third-most fatal (138,000 annual deaths), and dogs are the fourth-most (59,000 deaths).

Man’s Best Friend

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Several big-name organizations, including the CDC and American Veterinary Medical Association, studied over 25 dog breeds and their likelihood of causing human fatalities. They studied the 20-year period between 1979 and 1998. Pit Bull-type dogs and Rottweilers had the highest rate of fatal attacks on humans.

That said, the study points out that owner responsibility in how they raise and care for an animal plays a vital role in the chance of aggression among any dog breed. Furthermore, only about 18% of human fatalities as a result of dog attacks occurred when the dog was restrained; the remainder happened when dogs were unrestrained, placing additional emphasis on owner responsibility.

Wild Animal Attacks

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The brown bear has the highest rate of fatal, non-insect wild animal attacks in the U.S. Approximately 70 human deaths have happened in North America due to brown bears since 1970. Sharks and snakes tie for second place, and the black bear comes in third place.

50 Weirdest Laws in Each State

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Most Americans are clear on treating thy neighbor as they’d want to be treated to reduce the chance of fines and jail time. But did you know you could be breaking the law by making a face at your dog? These are the weirdest laws in each state, most of which courts don’t enforce.

50 Weirdest Laws in Each State That’ll Make You Chuckle

Most and Least Visited States

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Data company YouGov compiled the states Americans have visited the most and least. How many of the states on their list have you been to?

Most and Least Visited States by Americans

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