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10 Most Dangerous Animals for American Sportsmen

By Bob McNally
10/25/2013 11:52:32 AM

With a plethora of Halloween ghouls and goblins lurking soon in the autumn darkness, it seems appropriate to list ten of the most dangerous animals a person may encounter outdoors while afield or afloat. Although they are not all deadly, the adrenaline surge of coming face-to-face with them certainly ranks high on the blood pressure scale.

While most of the following spooky creatures may come under the heading of rare animals, the likelihood of encountering them is far more likely than a person happening across a 30-foot long giant oarfish or a school of beached pilot whales.

So here they are, and with luck, you'll make it through the outdoor world this fall without ever knowing they were close at hand.

Image by Per-Anders Olsson

Scorpion

Few creatures are more scary or intimidating than scorpions, and their venomous sting can be a wallop or a whimper, depending on what species delivers the pop. While deaths from scorpions are rare in the U.S., it's reported that over 1,000 people die annually from them in Mexico, and many times that number worldwide.

There are 1,500 scorpion species, about 90 in the U.S. More than 40 scorpion varieties live in Arizona, the most deadly being the Arizona bark scorpion. While small at 3-inches, a bark scorpion sting can cause breathing difficulty, involuntary thrashing of limbs, and eye irregularity. A sting is painful, though rarely resulting in death in the U.S.

Scorpions are plentiful throughout much of the South, and are commonly encountered by hunters, campers, hikers and other outdoorsmen. Hunting lodges and established tent camps used by sportsmen and campers can be places where scorpions seek shelter. Care should be used in picking up objects in and around camp. Firewood piles may harbor scorpions, and care in fetching wood for camp is wise.

Photo by T.J Green

Rattlesnake

Too many outdoorsmen believe rattlesnakes inhabit only hot, dry areas of the south and west. But 32 species of "rattlers," including the Timber Rattlesnake (pictured) exist throughout much of the Americas from Argentina in South America to Alberta and British Columbia in Canada. Some even are found in the suburbs of large metropolitan U.S. cities such as Tucson, Dallas, Pittsburg, Atlanta and even Chicago (yes, in northern Illinois the diminutive Massagua rattler thrives).

It's likely that most living creatures that happen across a rattlesnake instinctively know it is a thing to avoid. A rattlesnake's broad head, shaking-and-rattling tail, and sinister body language exude "don't tread on me."

Unfortunately, many rattler bites result from sportsmen placing hands or feet in places where snakes hide or hunt, and they strike out of defensive reflex action.

Rattlesnakes strike more humans than all other poisonous snakes in America. Most are not fatal, and many bites are so-called "dry" ones, meaning venom was not injected into the wound by the reptile. Nevertheless, all rattlesnake bites are serious, and should be treated by a physician as soon as possible.

Image by John Sullivan

Black Bear

This year has been an unusual one for attacks on humans by black bears, and 12-year old Abigail Wetherell in northern Michigan experienced one of the scariest. While jogging, she was chased and knocked down twice by a bear. Only by playing dead did the animal stop its mauling. If her screams had not been heard by a neighbor who chased away the bruin, she may not have survived the attack with only minor wounds to her leg.

While black bears are not as large or as aggressive as grizzly bears, black bears are far more numerous and widely distributed. Encounters with humans therefore are much more likely, and with black bear populations on a steady increase in many states, trouble with bruins is sure to be part of the wild outdoors for many years.

Bears that are not hunted and have become accustomed to humans are among the most dangerous and unpredictable. Sow bears with cubs also are a human threat, since they will attack with a vengeance to protect their young.

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