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The most dangerous animal

An Outdoor View

Posted: January 20, 2012 - 10:30am

We Americans have made life so safe, it's become boring.

Trouble is, we're not hard-wired for serenity. We need drama, action and danger. We claim to want safety, but at heart we hanker for an occasional shot of adrenaline. We crave the thrill of being chased by something. We enjoy the feeling of being scared, if only vicariously. This is one reason we spend so much time and money on TV, games and movies.

This deep-rooted need we have for danger came to mind the other night while I was watching a TV show about the five deadliest predators of the sea. You know the genre. The History Channel gives us "Axe Men, "Swamp People" and "Ice Road Truckers." The National Geographic Channel sends us "Border Wars," "Alaska Wing Men" and "Alaska State Troopers." The common thread of of these shows -- and pretty much the only reason we watch them -- is the element of risk and danger.

Back to the show about dangerous predators, these were alleged to be the killer whale, the Humboldt squid, the great white shark, the saltwater crocodile and the box jellyfish. I suppose all of these animals would be somewhat dangerous, given certain times and circumstances, but I don't consider any of them as significantly dangerous to humans. The narrator's hype and the spooky background music didn't scare me at all. Instead of being scared, I was miffed. Shows that make animals appear to be a threat to humans give animals a bad rep. Humans represent a far greater threat to "dangerous" animals than the animals are to humans.

"Dangerous" depends on your definition. The only human deaths attributable to orcas have been by captive whales. As for the chances of being killed or injured by squid, crocodiles, jellyfish and great white sharks, those risks are insignificant when compared to many, far greater risks.

The "most dangerous" also depends on where you are. If you live in Botswana, you wouldn't be afraid of being stung by a box jellyfish. You'd worry about being attacked by a hippopotamus, a species that kills more humans than any other animal in Africa. Ask Kenai Peninsula residents what they consider to be the most dangerous animal on the peninsula, and they'll likely say it's the brown bear. Yet, bears present very little risk to most people in Alaska. You stand a better chance of being killed by a drunk driver.

Why do we fear bears? Bears are big, fast and not always predictable. They have long claws and fearsome teeth. They can appear at any time and any place. They can outrun us, which means they can catch us. They live their lives in mystery, mostly unseen. Bears are living nightmares, the stuff of stories told around campfires since time immemorial.

An interesting thing I've noticed about most so-called dangerous animals is that they become dangerous only when they are injured, cornered, surprised or otherwise stressed. For example, a brown bear usually will take great pains to avoid humans until a hunter shoots it. For some reason, bears become extremely irate after being shot.

If you're set on finding real danger, look to your fellow man. In 2010, humans in Alaska committed 4,537 violent crimes -- murder, rape, robbery and assault. In the decade from 2001 to 2010, the number of people murdered in Alaska each year ranged from 22 to 44, an average of 34 deaths per year. On the other hand, bears in Alaska attack only a handful of people annually, and few bear attacks result in death.

All things considered, the so-called dangerous animals aren't very deadly when compared to man, the most dangerous animal of all.

Les Palmer can be reached at

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alaskagunhunter 01/22/12 - 07:30 am


True all those examples are potentially dangerous predators.
Humans must venture into their environment to be in danger of attack. The common thread is "predator" of which we are. As we all know bears do cross paths with humans whether in our yards or the woods. If a human feels threatened for life or property we are allowed to react. Human life before all others whether for protection or food. After all we are all consumers.

JOAT 01/23/12 - 11:55 pm
The most dangerous animals

I think the most dangerous animals on the Kenai are "domestic" dogs that irresponsible owners allow to run free in the streets. But if we're going to talk about wild animals, moose are far more dangerous than bears.

Thanks for the reminder of why I don't watch such TV shows. The network channels haven't had a good show in years and these "reality" shows that permeate everything else are the dumbest concept I've ever seen. Pointless to complain about the contents of such shows. Just turn off the TV, or at least change the channel.

cbeard 01/24/12 - 05:41 pm
No Wilderness

I agree with previous post that people letting their dogs loose is a big nuisance for not only people and traffic, but they have an adverse effect on wildlife populations and migrations too. The KPB needs leash laws and if people don't want to leash their dogs they had better break out the shovel and chicken wire to start making some fenced yards.

All of these "Alaskan" TV shows prove that there really is no such thing as wilderness. Many people move to Alaska and the Kenai thinking that they've "won the game of life" and can spend their years recreationally and "live off the land". The truth is this place is like any other and you still have to have the boring parts in life to get by. Humans are urban animals by nature, and don't NEED to be harassing wildlife in non-urban settings. The very fact somebody who chooses to live "in the wilderness" builds a walled structure (a cabin) shows that even the most remote of people are urban.

It's completely fine to explore wilderness and experience wild animals, but succumbing to some caveman need to dominate animals is not helping anybody. Predators (including the so-called "vicious moose-killing" wolves) help maintain the wild environment just as much as trees, water, and grass, but for some reason this logic escapes many and every semi-carnivorous animal is culturally turned into a sport.

If you want to see dangerous animals, look at people. If you want to protect hunted or fished animal species, stop so many people from hunting and fishing.

This should be simple logic.

msjinxie 02/02/12 - 10:27 pm
AMEN to Loose dogs!

I completely agree everyone. I have been fighting to do something on my end, but its like no one really cares. The Borough doesn't want to deal with it, so unfortunately, dogs end up shot because they are getting into neighbors yards. If you want a dog, treat it like a child as far as needing to watch it. The rest of the neighborhood doesn't want to deal with your animal charging into yards at kids etc. The answer is simple in one area at least. The Borough needs to get off their BUTTS and open an animal shelter/control/adoption center instead of letting dogs get hurt, killed by other animals or worse, another human. Maybe enough of us will speak up enough to get some attention to it huh? I'm in....

Norseman 02/03/12 - 08:50 am
used to have a dog problem

I used to have a dog problem. They would get through 2 seperate fences to get to my chickens. Tried at first to deal with the neighbors by requesting they keep their dogs under control and reimburse me for my dead chickens.
Never saw one dime, nor did they keep their dogs under control.
I purchased a 410 and took matters in my own hands. Have not had one problem since.

spwright 02/03/12 - 12:08 pm
Voters already said NO 2/3/12

Fri 2/3/12
The VOTERS of the Kenai Peninsula have already Voted NO
for Animal Control outside of City Limits.

All of You "Macho Men" that are ready to Shoot a Family Pet just because that Pet is in Your Yard. Make certain that Dog is the Guilty Party, like it's face & mouth covered in Blood.
Direct Evidence that animal has Killed.

We had a "Macho Neighbor" shoot a Dog for Crapping in His Yard with a hunting rifle. The round went thru the Dog across the street & into the Living Room of his neighbor's home
with CHILDREN in the Living Room. Guess What ? It was
"Macho Man" being handcuffed & hauled off by the State Troopers.

Yes If a Dog is running with a pack & Killing, it needs to be Shot. But NOT for Just being a Dog.

SPW in Slooooowdotna

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