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Old 1st January 2013, 08:48 PM   #1
Cainkane1
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Whats causing wild animals to attack humans?

There seems to be an increase in attacks on humans by wild animals. Bears, pumas coyotes etc. Many of the attacks seem to have no provocation.

I think its because of a decrease in hunting by humans. I'm 66 and during my lifetime bears fled in panic at the approach of humans. These days campers and hikers are attacked and as often as not eaten.

Could global warming be a factor?
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Old 1st January 2013, 08:51 PM   #2
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Is there an increase in attacks, or is there just an increase in news coverage of attacks? Don't go looking for why something is happening without first showing that it is, indeed, happening.
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Old 1st January 2013, 09:01 PM   #3
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If there is an actual increase, then one liklihood is encroaching aspects of civilization (i.e. humans) is using/destroying habitats leaving them less territority and more pissoffidiced
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Old 1st January 2013, 09:06 PM   #4
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There's also the fact that humans are good food sources. But I echo GodMark2's statement: before we can ask WHY there's an increase in attacks, we must prove THAT there's an increase in attacks.
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Old 1st January 2013, 09:16 PM   #5
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Are they getting angry? Can they see what we have and if they want it they might attack? Or do they think we are full of bullcrap and so they attack?
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Old 1st January 2013, 09:23 PM   #6
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Most likely they are attacking because they see how stupid we have become from the smart hunters and thinkers we used to be.
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Old 1st January 2013, 09:29 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Dinwar View Post
There's also the fact that humans are good food sources.
We are?

Out of curiosity, in the entire history of the world, has there ever been even a single report of a healthy, unrestrained, adult human, being attacked by any animal of any kind, for food?
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Old 1st January 2013, 09:30 PM   #8
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It's a RABIES epidemic! Run!

















If the numbers are real, (because I notice you offered no evidence), then the most likely reason would be increased reporting and increasing encroachment. Global warming, while it can be expected to displace animals could fall into the increasing encroachment category.
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Old 1st January 2013, 09:32 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
We are?

Out of curiosity, in the entire history of the world, has there ever been even a single report of a healthy, unrestrained, adult human, being attacked by any animal of any kind, for food?
Polar bears, tigers and lions, definitely see humans as a food source. Other bears and large cats, occasionally.
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Old 1st January 2013, 09:32 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
We are?
Not in terms of eating us--but in terms of our trash and hand-outs yeah, we're a really good source of food.
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Old 1st January 2013, 10:07 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Cainkane1 View Post
There seems to be an increase in attacks on humans by wild animals. Bears, pumas coyotes etc. Many of the attacks seem to have no provocation.

I think its because of a decrease in hunting by humans. I'm 66 and during my lifetime bears fled in panic at the approach of humans. These days campers and hikers are attacked and as often as not eaten.

Could global warming be a factor?

Likely a wasted post, but do you have any evidence for this claim?
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Old 2nd January 2013, 01:16 AM   #12
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People are getting out to the wilds more often, and there's much more reporting.
There's also a lot more people than 50 years ago.
Another factor is large carnivores getting squeezed from their normal enviorns, for a variety of reasons. Hence, more desperate activities.
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Old 2nd January 2013, 01:17 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Polar bears, tigers and lions, definitely see humans as a food source. Other bears and large cats, occasionally.
Yep, and sharks. Possiblly others (pythons, komodo dragons?).
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Old 2nd January 2013, 02:10 AM   #14
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How would hunting help?
If you hunt and kill an animal how does that make another animal that you haven't hunted and killed scared of you?
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Old 2nd January 2013, 02:48 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
Yep, and sharks. Possiblly others (pythons, komodo dragons?).
I was going to say sharks first too, but I saw that prestige asked specifically about animals. Then I was going to say hippopotamuses, which is AFAIK the mammal that kills the most humans; but I don't think that meets prestige's other requirement, attack for food purposes. (I also thought cobras, but that doesn't qualify for both of prestige's requirements, animals and attack for food.)


Documented attacks specifically for food? That would probably be Polar Bears #1 like SG said, and #2 Lions.
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Old 2nd January 2013, 03:19 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by OnlyTellsTruths View Post
I was going to say sharks first too, but I saw that prestige asked specifically about animals.
Well, sharks are certainly animals. They're not mammals though and perhaps that's what theprestige meant.

eta: we forgot crocodiles (it seems alligators, though capable of scoffing a person, avoid people)

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Old 2nd January 2013, 03:44 AM   #17
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I expect as travel becomes easier, and wilderness more accessible, there are more inexperienced people, unaware of the scale of the potential dangers, wandering around in predator's territories. Even Everest is no longer the sole preserve of expert mountaineers.
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Old 2nd January 2013, 03:45 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
Well, sharks are certainly animals. They're not mammals though and perhaps that's what theprestige meant.

Wow, I totally just did that in a thread like 2 months ago!

I see "animals" and I think "mammals".

It was the same animal too, I believe I was trying to say something about sharks vs. dolphins.

It's really obvious too, which makes it worse. But apparently I have a brain fart in the mammal/animal area!
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Old 2nd January 2013, 10:28 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
How would hunting help?
If you hunt and kill an animal how does that make another animal that you haven't hunted and killed scared of you?
I suppose you force rapid evolution by killing off all the ones that are not wary of humans.
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Old 2nd January 2013, 10:49 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by in_Swoop
How would hunting help?
If you hunt and kill an animal how does that make another animal that you haven't hunted and killed scared of you?
Depends on how you hunt. If you leave the young alive, they'll know (from bitter experience) to stay away from humans. If you kill everything you encounter, nothing is left alive to learn.

Though looking at the hunters may be the wrong way to look at this. If there is something to explain (and I'm by no means convinced there is) an examination of prey may be more fruitful. Humans eat large animals. So do other predators. But humans are better at it, so generally humans tend to eat so much of their preferred prey that other predators move on to other, lower-quality prey. Remove enough prey and suddenly the predators don't have many options. Add to that the fact that humans are, again, a fairly good food source (ie, we have tasty trash and stupid people who give handouts), and it's not unlikely that there would be animal attacks if preferred prey is removed.
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Old 2nd January 2013, 11:03 AM   #21
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Furry predators get somewhat touchy when they have nursing young. My guess is that most attacks stem from that scenario. There's lots of dumasses that go on wilderness hikes.

My favorite attack came from a ruffed grouse. I was hiking a steep and narrow forested trail in the Adirondack Mountains, and stumbled upon a grouse and its chicks. The mother bird flew right at my face, repeatedly, and actually forced me to run back down the trail. When I was out of range, I had to laugh hard at myself. I was run out of the woods by a bird. She got mother of the year award from me.
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Old 2nd January 2013, 11:59 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by quarky View Post
Furry predators get somewhat touchy when they have nursing young.
As a furry predator who once nursed her own young, I totally get this.
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Old 2nd January 2013, 01:49 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
.......If you hunt and kill an animal how does that make another animal that you haven't hunted and killed scared of you?
Whatever the cause, the actuality is very clear on this. In areas of Africa where hunting is happening (either as poaching or legal hunting), the animals are skittish, and can be virtually impossible to watch. In areas of no hunting, the animals become incredibly tolerant of humans.

In Western Zambia, for instance, elephants are generally skittish and will either run away at the first sign of humans, or will attack. In neighbouring northern Botswana, elephants are calm, docile and will happily carry on eating with a car only 5 metres away. In Zambia, that separation distance can be 200 metres. The difference between the two places? Poaching. There is virtually none in Botswana, and quite a lot in Zambia.

The same phenomena occurs with all sorts of animals, but the obvious ones are antelopes, zebras, ellies and buffaloes.

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Old 2nd January 2013, 03:04 PM   #24
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The general approach most all animals have to danger is first to try to flee. If there are no routes of escape, most animals will hide. They only attack when completely out of options.

If animal attacks are increasing, I would expect the main cause to be shrinking habitats that put them in closer contact with humans.
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Old 2nd January 2013, 04:56 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by quarky View Post
Furry predators get somewhat touchy when they have nursing young. My guess is that most attacks stem from that scenario. There's lots of dumasses that go on wilderness hikes.

My favorite attack came from a ruffed grouse. I was hiking a steep and narrow forested trail in the Adirondack Mountains, and stumbled upon a grouse and its chicks. The mother bird flew right at my face, repeatedly, and actually forced me to run back down the trail. When I was out of range, I had to laugh hard at myself. I was run out of the woods by a bird. She got mother of the year award from me.
I though I was the only person ever attacked by a grouse (a ptarmigan in my case). It was a similar situation. I almost stepped on her babies. Baby ptarmigan are quite well camouflaged. They looked remarkably like rocks until I was right on top of them, about to step on them. About a second after I realized what they were and stopped in mid stride, mama ptarmigan was flying at my face.

Don't mess with a mother's babies, of any species. They will get mean.
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Old 2nd January 2013, 05:04 PM   #26
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My wife and I once had the distinct pleasure of watching baby birds be born. We were doing field work in a farm field, and saw a bird that appeared wounded, so we went over to investigate. Turns out that the mothers in that particular species mimick being wounded, to draw predators away from the next--then they take off like a shot before being eaten. Of course, that doesn't work so well when the "predator" is a pair of scientists. No, we didn't harm the birds, and we left within a few minutes of seeing the mother (we didn't want to disturb either the chicks or the mother--the species isn't terribly common).

If you want a real mind-bender, consider this: Humans evolved in Africa, yet Africa is the only continent that maintains even that much of its Pleistocene fauna.
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Old 2nd January 2013, 06:28 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Dinwar View Post
My wife and I once had the distinct pleasure of watching baby birds be born. We were doing field work in a farm field, and saw a bird that appeared wounded, so we went over to investigate. Turns out that the mothers in that particular species mimick being wounded, to draw predators away from the next--then they take off like a shot before being eaten. Of course, that doesn't work so well when the "predator" is a pair of scientists. No, we didn't harm the birds, and we left within a few minutes of seeing the mother (we didn't want to disturb either the chicks or the mother--the species isn't terribly common).

If you want a real mind-bender, consider this: Humans evolved in Africa, yet Africa is the only continent that maintains even that much of its Pleistocene fauna.
The bird sounds like a killdeer to me. They lay eggs on the ground; very vulnerable. They do displays to distract would-be egg eaters.

It is astounding about Africa.
You'd think that every square meter would be 'civilized' by now.
In America, getting rid of the bison only took a few years.
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Old 3rd January 2013, 02:40 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by quarky View Post
...........It is astounding about Africa.......
Quick diversion.....

The BBC have a fantastic new series out called "Africa", another tour de force from the Natural history Unit in Bristol, and of course, featuring David Attenborough. If you have any means of accessing it, you MUST see it.

[/diversion]

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Old 3rd January 2013, 05:04 AM   #29
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I have never been attacked by a black bear sow with cubs but have had more than a few bluff charges intended to scare me off.

I have successfully defended myself against 2 predatory black bear attacks in British Columbia and also tracked and shot a bear that was obviously stalking and intending to kill a timber faller that I employed.
He was fortunately able to keep the bear at bay by throwing everything he had at the bear (Hard hat, wedges, axe, fuel/oil can) while making his way back to his vehicle. He finally locked his power saw on full revs and threw it at the bear and dashed the last 50 yards back to his truck. By the time he drove to where I was - he was undergoing the shakes so bad from his adrenaline rush - he was unable to light his cigarette.

In particular, the common belief that surprising a mother bear with cubs is the most dangerous kind of black bear encounter is inaccurate. Instead, lone male black bears hunting people as a potential source of food are a greater cause of deadly maulings and related predatory attempts. The study also found that fatal attacks do not typically involve bears that are familiar with humans, although some fatal attacks did.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0511074807.htm

Such predatory behaviour by large black bears is pretty well known by the people who live and/or work in the true wilds of bear country.
I also believe that many such attacks are not reported to the authorities as they have ended in the death of the bear and no damage to the intended prey.
I personally know of 2 other instances where the opportunistic bear was dispatched and no official report was made.
As in my case - why bother making a fuss when no damage was done?

I also think it is interesting that once again Gary Shelton's personal research into bear behaviour and bear attacks has beaten Herrero to the punch by many years.
This is not to criticize Herrero - but to point out that the self-educated layman with a combination of years of personal experience supplemented by serious research can sometimes be ahead of the curve.
http://www.amazon.com/Bear-Attacks-T.../dp/0969809913

My complements to Herrero though, for putting the science ahead of the political agenda of many groups that try to blame humans for all bear/human conflict.
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Old 3rd January 2013, 05:25 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
Whatever the cause, the actuality is very clear on this. In areas of Africa where hunting is happening (either as poaching or legal hunting), the animals are skittish, and can be virtually impossible to watch. In areas of no hunting, the animals become incredibly tolerant of humans.

In Western Zambia, for instance, elephants are generally skittish and will either run away at the first sign of humans, or will attack. In neighbouring northern Botswana, elephants are calm, docile and will happily carry on eating with a car only 5 metres away. In Zambia, that separation distance can be 200 metres. The difference between the two places? Poaching. There is virtually none in Botswana, and quite a lot in Zambia.

The same phenomena occurs with all sorts of animals, but the obvious ones are antelopes, zebras, ellies and buffaloes.

Mike
Such behaviour is evident in both bears and coyotes where I reside although it is legal shooting and/or hunting pressure and not poaching that is the difference.

Coyotes walk freely in many cities in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. The have actually attacked children within city limits.
Having a coyote watch me while I was walking down a city street was pretty surprising to me as I was used to seeing coyotes only rarely in the daylight and then usually they were on the dead run from the shot that they knew was likely to follow.

When I now see bears being tolerated around human habitation without the effort of even hazing them to remove them from the area - I just shake my head at the chances these people are willing to take with their lives and the lives of others.
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Old 3rd January 2013, 08:58 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by rockinkt
My complements to Herrero though, for putting the science ahead of the political agenda of many groups that try to blame humans for all bear/human conflict.
It's not an issue of blame, but of practicality. You can't educate populations of black bears to not do what they're programed via evolution to do. Humans, on the other hand, evolved with cognition, and therefore CAN be educated in large numbers relatively quickly. Humans+bears=dead bodies of both, and we can only impact one variable on the left side of that equation, so it makes sense to focus on that variable.

In other words, when you're trying to keep people safe from bears it doesn't really matter who's at fault. You can only influence what the people do, so that's who you focus on.

I agree that people are stupid when it comes to wild animals, though. Everyone sees the magestic wolf, the noble stag, etc., and forgets that these things are alive (assuming they're adults) because they're capable of fighting. Nature isn't nice; that's why we build houses and cities.
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Old 3rd January 2013, 09:53 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by quarky View Post
Furry predators get somewhat touchy when they have nursing young. My guess is that most attacks stem from that scenario. There's lots of dumasses that go on wilderness hikes.

My favorite attack came from a ruffed grouse. I was hiking a steep and narrow forested trail in the Adirondack Mountains, and stumbled upon a grouse and its chicks. The mother bird flew right at my face, repeatedly, and actually forced me to run back down the trail. When I was out of range, I had to laugh hard at myself. I was run out of the woods by a bird. She got mother of the year award from me.
On the other hand you hear reports of campers being attacked in their sleep. One boy scout had his arm chewed off and eaten by a passing bear.
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Old 3rd January 2013, 09:59 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Cainkane1 View Post
On the other hand you hear reports of campers being attacked in their sleep.
No I don't. I take it you're not going to provide any evidence that there is actually the increase in attacks you claim?
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Old 3rd January 2013, 10:27 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by OnlyTellsTruths View Post
I was going to say sharks first too, but I saw that prestige asked specifically about animals. Then I was going to say hippopotamuses, which is AFAIK the mammal that kills the most humans; but I don't think that meets prestige's other requirement, attack for food purposes. (I also thought cobras, but that doesn't qualify for both of prestige's requirements, animals and attack for food.)


Documented attacks specifically for food? That would probably be Polar Bears #1 like SG said, and #2 Lions.
I don't think hippos kill people to eat them, but it reminded me that crocs definitely do.
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Old 3rd January 2013, 10:29 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
Whatever the cause, the actuality is very clear on this. In areas of Africa where hunting is happening (either as poaching or legal hunting), the animals are skittish, and can be virtually impossible to watch. In areas of no hunting, the animals become incredibly tolerant of humans.

In Western Zambia, for instance, elephants are generally skittish and will either run away at the first sign of humans, or will attack. In neighbouring northern Botswana, elephants are calm, docile and will happily carry on eating with a car only 5 metres away. In Zambia, that separation distance can be 200 metres. The difference between the two places? Poaching. There is virtually none in Botswana, and quite a lot in Zambia.

The same phenomena occurs with all sorts of animals, but the obvious ones are antelopes, zebras, ellies and buffaloes.

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A similar phenomenon can be seen in Namibia. Rather than eliminating poachers, they became custodians of the wild areas - and as a result the numbers of animals, predators and prey both, have increased substantially. At the same time, attacks on both people and livestock have decreased with the reintroduction of natural prey species for predators.

Here's John Kasaona on the subject:

http://www.ted.com/talks/john_kasaon...aretakers.html

Let's assume that attacks on people by wild animals are on the increase (I don't know if they are or not). The answer to the question of "why" is likely going to be found by looking at the problem ecologically. There is an acronym, HIPPO, regarding the terrible state of ecosystems, specifically megafauna and keystone species (AKA apex predators). It stands for: Habitat destruction; Introduced species; Population (meaning humans); Pollution; and Overfishing.

I think you'll find that habitat destruction is responsible for most of the encounters between people and animals, but I don't know conclusively that this is responsible for any increase in attacks, especially considering the evidence out of Zambia and Namibia. At first it seems obvious, but I'll get back to this point. It's difficult to make a comparison in the USA due to a massive extermination campaign of all major predators during the westward expansion.

Speaking of relative danger, it's important to remember that animal attacks on people are extremely rare, even in places where humans are on the menu (as with tigers). Timothy Treadwell was in the wild with grizzly bears for years before one killed and ate him...and that bear was old and probably starving. A tiger that killed and ate three people in Bangladesh before being caught and put in the zoo in Dhaka was very old and its teeth were worn down to nubs. Most fatal shark attacks seem to be mistaken identity, with the majority of attacks being investigatory and thus not usually fatal.

I have a particular affinity for big cats, especially tigers and mountain lions, and I work around both several times a month. The latter is of particular interest to me, and I've done a bit of research on it for a book I'm writing. Due to its range it's the most capable widespread candidate for a fatal attack on a human in the Americas. Below is a list of fatal attacks by mountain lions in North America:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of..._North_America

Most are children, and according to the article children unaccompanied by adults. Of the adults who were attacked, a good many were jogging or running alone. Cougars are programmed by instinct to attack a running animal, and people are no different. The cougar has no choice. In fact, I don't know of any big cat that doesn't have this instinct, and I've seen it personally with children that ran past the cougars and lynxes where I volunteer. This goes back to why I suggested that encounters and attacks are not one in the same - the recipe for disaster comes when humans and animals encounter each other and the human displays the wrong behavior. Of course, this does not necessarily mean the human is at fault or if there is even any fault at all.

Using mountain lions as a model, I would predict that as habitat decreases with human population increase, encounters will increase as well. Attacks, however, will remain stable or perhaps slightly increase and then decline. This will be either the result of fewer mountain lions or an increase in their natural prey through ecological restoration.

I also predict it won't be a good time to be a mountain lion.
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Old 3rd January 2013, 10:31 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
Whatever the cause, the actuality is very clear on this. In areas of Africa where hunting is happening (either as poaching or legal hunting), the animals are skittish, and can be virtually impossible to watch. In areas of no hunting, the animals become incredibly tolerant of humans....
An extreme example is the Galapagos Islands where you can walk right up to nesting birds and seals giving birth.
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Old 3rd January 2013, 10:33 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by OnlyTellsTruths View Post
.........Then I was going to say hippopotamuses, which is AFAIK the mammal that kills the most humans; ...........
Apocryphal. Hippos kill around 30 people per annum.

The animal which kills the most humans is the mosquito, or fellow humans (depending on which wars happen to be raging that year). Snakes and feral dogs each kill around 20,000 Africans per annum, which puts the hippo figures into perspective. Lions kill many more than hippos, too, as do elephants some years.

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Old 3rd January 2013, 10:35 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
The general approach most all animals have to danger is first to try to flee. If there are no routes of escape, most animals will hide. They only attack when completely out of options.
That depends on how you define "most".
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Old 3rd January 2013, 10:37 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
Apocryphal. Hippos kill around 30 people per annum.

The animal which kills the most humans is the mosquito, or fellow humans (depending on which wars happen to be raging that year). Snakes and feral dogs each kill around 20,000 Africans per annum, which puts the hippo figures into perspective. Lions kill many more than hippos, too, as do elephants some years.

Mike
Mosquitos don't kill, the parasites they carry do. And I don't think insects are considered animals but that might be debatable. But your other numbers are interesting.
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Old 3rd January 2013, 10:43 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Mosquitos don't kill, the parasites they carry do. And I don't think insects are considered animals but that might be debatable. But your other numbers are interesting.
Insects are animals. As are sponges and some single-celled organisms. Basically anything that isn't a plant or a lichen. The parasites can be animals as well.
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