How Animals Kill People: By the Numbers

13 Feb

There are a lot of different ways animals can kill you, whether it’s through a bite, a sting, or a kick. Every six years or thereabouts, the scientific journal Wilderness and Environmental Medicine publishes a study breaking down direct fatal encounters between human and beast. This January, the journal put out the latest installment, which references CDC data from 2008 to 2015.

“Understanding the most common reasons for human deaths after encounters with animals is important for improving overall public health and forming sound strategies to reduce these risks of death,” says Jared Forrester, a doctor at Stanford and the lead author on the study. We took his results and combined them with stats from a few other sources to give you a look at the numbers.


Deaths per year caused through direct contact with animals in the United States.


Percentage of all deaths suffered by people in the American South, one of four regions.


Deaths caused by “other mammals,” the most represented category in the study. It’s estimated that most of these injuries are farm-related and caused most often by horses and cattle.


Death per year caused by sharks, according to data from the Global Shark Attack File.


Deaths per year from hornets, wasps, and bees—the second most represented category in the study.


Percentage of all animal-related deaths suffered by men.


Deaths from venomous snakes each year.


Deaths per year from dogs, the third most represented category in the study.


Deaths per year from dogs to children age four or younger—they suffer at a rate nearly twice that of the next closest age group.

4.5 Million

Dog bites per year in the United States, a number from a different CDC study.


Percentage of all animal-related deaths suffered by Caucasians.


Death caused by a crocodile or alligator over the eight-year study period.


Deaths caused by vehicle collisions with animals in 2016, a type of fatality not included in the study.