19 Deadliest Animals in the US

The U.S. is not known for having deadly animals around every corner, but there are still dangers out there. These are the 19 deadliest animals in America: even with deaths being rare, you should still practice caution around them.

Brown bear (Grizzly bear)

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Brown bears have been responsible for 70 deaths in North America since 1970, making them one of the deadliest animals in the region. They are mostly found in Alaska, parts of Montana, Washington, and western Canada. These powerful predators can become aggressive if they feel threatened, especially when protecting their cubs. When it comes to grizzlies, you should first stand your ground and then slowly back away. If the grizzly begins to charge, hit the dirt, curl into a ball, and play dead.

Snakes (Rattlesnakes, Copperheads, Cottonmouths)

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To date, there are up to 20 species of venomous snakes in the United States, with 16 belonging solely to the rattlesnake family. Venomous snakes cause around five deaths per year in the U.S. out of 8,000 bites. Coral snakes have especially potent venom. Rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, and copperheads can be found across various habitats in the southern U.S. and deliver potent venom that makes them the second most deadly animals in the nation—tied with sharks—causing 57 deaths since 1970.

Sharks (Great White, Tiger, Bull)

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Shark attacks are very rare, with an average of only one U.S. fatality every two years, mostly from great whites. Great white, bull, and tiger sharks have been responsible for 57 human deaths in North America since 1970. While shark attacks are rare, they can be fatal, especially in coastal waters where these predators are found.

Black bear

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Black bears are the most common bear species in North America and have caused 54 deaths in the U.S. since 1970. They are generally less aggressive than brown bears but can still pose a significant threat to humans, especially when startled or when humans come between a mother and her cubs. Yelling aloud and waving your arms can make the bear think you’re a threat and bigger than you really are.


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Since 1970, alligators have been responsible for 33 fatalities in America. These reptiles are found in the southeastern United States and can be very dangerous if provoked or if humans enter their territory. Be aware; they are quicker than you would expect on land and in water.

Mountain lions (Cougars, Pumas)

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Also known as mountain lions, cougars have caused 16 deaths in North America since 1970. They are solitary and elusive creatures that can be found from Canada to South America. The big cats are stealthy predators that occasionally attack humans. Standing your ground if encountered is advised.


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Wolves have caused two deaths in North America since 1970. They are typically fearful of humans and avoid contact, but there have been rare instances where wolves have attacked humans. If an attack happens, it’s most likely due to rabies.

Bees, wasps, hornets

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The CDC reports that flying insects caused the deaths of a total of 1,109 people between the years 2000 and 2017, for an average of 62 deaths each year. These flying insects can cause deadly allergic reactions in some individuals, leading to anaphylactic shock and potentially death.

Spiders (Black widow, Brown recluse, Hobo)

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In the United States alone, there are over 3,000 species of spiders. Out of this extraordinary number of spiders, only three are known to be venomous. Black widows and recluse spiders (brown and Chilean) are especially dangerous and even deadly to children, the elderly, and the sick.


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Coyote attacks on humans are very uncommon, but small children may be at risk in rare cases. Urban Coyote warns, “When you encounter a coyote, shout or throw something in its direction.” Do not run away. Do not play dead. If a coyote is defending a certain area, particularly around pupping season, change your route to avoid them. Be especially careful around coyotes you see in urban areas in the daylight.


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Deer cause over 200 deaths per year in the U.S. from vehicle collisions. Males can also be aggressive during mating season. Statistics show that you are far more likely to be killed by a collision with a deer than you are by the bite of a shark or the claws of an angry bear.


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Bison are among the most dangerous animals encountered by visitors to the various North American national parks. These huge animals generally aren’t aggressive but will attack humans if provoked, so give them space. They appear slow because of their lethargic movements, but they can easily outrun humans. Bison have been observed running as fast as 40 to 45 mph.

Domestic dogs

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Five million dog bites occur in the United States each year, which translates to one bite for every 70 Americans. Around 20% of these bites are so serious that victims often require immediate medical attention. It’s important to remember that a third of all dog bites could potentially lead to the deadly Campylobacter infection. Dog attacks kill around 30–50 Americans per year.

Fire ants

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Fire ants are aggressive, venomous insects that sting. They cause painful, intensely itchy welts that turn into blisters. Though rare, fire ant venom can cause a life-threatening reaction. Swarms of biting fire ants can trigger deadly allergic reactions in some people. Outside Online reports that there are “fire ants in the South that can preferentially cause increased risk of death in the elderly and very young.”

Wild boars

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The wild boar is a seriously dangerous game animal with a mix of extraordinary strength, two razor-sharp tusks, and a bad attitude. If you picture a gigantic boar in full charge with his pearly white tusks glistening in plain view, this is only one danger of the boar. However, by far the most dangerous hog in the woods is a sow with young pigs; she will stop at nothing to protect her babies.


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Males can be aggressive during the fall rut and may try to kick you or chase you if they feel threatened. Grinding their teeth or sending their ears back are signs of anxiety, which you should be mindful of. The Grand Canyon National Park asks that people stay at least 100 feet away from all elk. Even with the warning, elk injure a handful of people in national parks each year.


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Moose are generally not aggressive. However, if one of these large deer is stressed, a bull moose in the fall rut or a cow moose protecting her young may be easily provoked into an attack. If you see their neck and back hairs standing up and their ears going back against their heads, the moose is agitated and likely to attack.


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Understanding Animal Research calls mosquitoes the deadliest animals on Earth, responsible for about one million deaths annually due to the diseases they transmit, such as malaria, dengue, West Nile fever, and lymphatic filariasis (one of the world’s leading causes of disability). Many mosquitoes are becoming immune to insecticides, so don’t feel bad the next time you squash one of these killers.

Polar bears

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Polar bears, with 10 recorded fatalities since 1970, are one of the most dangerous animals in North America. They are found in the Arctic regions and are known to attack and kill humans when they encounter them. They’re looking for food, no matter its size, shape, or form. If you run into a polar bear, you are in for a fight. Playing dead doesn’t work with these massive, one-ton killers.

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