Outdoor Liaisons

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Published 7/18/01

The Most Dangerous Predator Known To Man

In your opinion - what is the most dangerous predator known to man?
Is it a large Grizzly, Brown or Kodiak Bear? 
A Hammerhead, Bull or Great White Shark? 
An African Lion or a Bengal Tiger?

What about the Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda who in the early 1900’s were thought to be vicious man-killers? 
Thanks to researcher Diane Fossey who proved differently in her studies of this gentle giant and distant cousin of homo sapiens – who’s also on the concerned species list.

Perhaps it’s a venomous snake like the Timber Rattler, Cobra or Black Mamba? 
Or a honey bee, wasp or yellow jacket that may be lethal to certain folks who are allergic to their sting?

Or is it an animal that may be hard to see and weigh micro-grams like the different ticks that we pick up directly while in the woods or indirectly by cross contamination? They surely can cause debilitating medical conditions and even death.

Then there's the microscopic creatures we cannot see with the naked eye. Micro-organisms such as bacteria and viruses that also prey on us - making us very sick and some eventually kill us. The smallest predator known to modern man is the virus - a sub-microscopic pathogen that definitely kills a lot of people. But what is most dangerous predator known to man - in your opinion?

Many animals in our environment from the smallest of insects to the largest of mammals will defend to their death sometimes - their home turf, their offspring and their own life from predators. We can see it play out everyday on the Discovery Channel or in our own back yards - how different predators stalk and kill their prey in order to survive and raise their young. If it wasn’t for this relationship in the animal and plant kingdom – and in the grand scheme of things - the world might very well be overrun by insects, birds, reptiles, mammals and micro-organisms. And it might just be that population densities are out of balance for some species in some regions of the world today – usually caused by homo sapiens. 

Very few animals in nature kill just for sake of killing or for no reason at all. Few wild animals kill and then leave their prey behind to rot and to be scavenged. Few kill en masse and indiscriminately. There’s a purpose for every living thing on this planet - many are known and many are yet to be learned. We can all learn something new everyday. The longer I live the more I realize the earth, with all of its creatures, plant life and other life forms is very delicately balanced. Remove or reduce just one of those living elements and the impacts can become far reaching. We may not see the impacts right away - but there will be impacts. For every action there will be a reaction.

Many people are very afraid of snakes of any kind. If it looks like a snake – they’ll kill it. It doesn’t matter that it was a harmless, beneficial snake like the Black Rat snake, Black Racer or any other harmless species. Even Rattle Snakes have a purpose in nature. It’s important for people to be educated and informed – where do we start? [With the children].

And then we have those folks who move into the suburbs and become alarmed if a chipmunk takes up residence in their stone wall or makes a hole in their lawn – or if they find duck or geese droppings on their lawn. And God forbid that they should see a snake of any kind on their property.

I’ll never forget the time a Black Bear came into the City of Newburgh, NY. I wasn’t there at the time but I read of the accounts. The bear had been spotted south of Newburgh traveling North on Route 32. By the time the bear came across the city line of Newburgh there were many police officers and K-9 units waiting. Somehow on Broadway the bear was treed in one of the small Locust Trees that line some parts of Broadway. I remember there were many police officers and dogs who were called out that night to chase down this bear. As it turned out - after the bear was treed - a bear expert from the NYSDEC was called to tranquilize the animal. It was then tagged and transported to the Catskill Mountains and released. The bear wasn’t the only problem. Some of the folks in the crowd didn’t like the way the bear was being treated - they protested and were arrested.

Yes bears can grow to be large powerful creatures. I believe that the NYS record Black Bear is over 700 pounds (live weight). Statistics have shown that Black Bear attacks on humans are rare. Yes, a bear has the potential to kill humans but many more people still die in the U.S. from bee and hornet stings than most wild animal attacks.

I’ve hunted and observed deer, bear and wildlife in general for many years and like many other outdoor folks we like to study and learn as much as we can about wildlife. We’ve all seen the TV accounts of wild animals that attack people. Some attacks are recorded in the wild but many videos show captive animal attacks in circuses, zoos, game farms, rodeos, runs of the bulls and even in private homes. The scary part is there seems to be an increase in dog attacks on people - especially children. Some with very serious consequences. I personally don’t believe it’s always a problem with the dog - I believe some in certain incidents it’s a people problem.

Within the past month animal attacks in the news involved two large dogs that killed a 33 year old lady; a Florida Alligator that killed a 2 year old girl; three Pitbulls that viciously attacked a ten year old boy; a Louisiana child that had his arm torn off by a Bull Shark that was then grabbed by the child’s Uncle and wrestled to shore. The child’s arm was removed from the shark and reattached to the boy. The boy is still in serious but guarded condition. And locally - a New Jersey Black Bear scratched a young boy who was feeding the bear a bagel.

I’m sure that if a Black Bear or another large mammal killed someone locally there is no doubt in my mind that everyone would be on alert and a widespread “man-hunt” for every suspect Black Bear in the county and region would be taking place.

When one compares the public reaction to wild animal attacks on humans to the numerous occurrences of assaults and murders of people on people I have to wonder which species is most dangerous. One has to wonder why many people react to animal attacks on humans much differently than human attacks on humans. In other words modern day humans seem to look at animal attacks on people differently than people attacks on people. So much so that I believe people have become desensitized to human on human violence and murder.

When the police, DA, coroner and others are called to the scene of a violent crime and then follow their operating procedures - e.g., cordon off the area, take pictures, check for witnesses, gather evidence, ask questions, remove the victim etc. The next day and the area around the crime scene would pretty much go back to business as usual even if the killer was unknown and on the loose. Just take our region of NYS alone. There are many unsolved murders, missing persons (presumed dead) and bodies found. This plays out in cities and towns across our nation.

A recent death of just one person would take on new meaning and a great sense of urgency if it was proven to have been caused by a Black Bear, a Mountain Lion or another large creature.

Human predation on other humans and on many other forms of life comes in many different ways and means. Baseball bats, knives, firearms, poisons, algaecides, insecticides, herbicides, polluters (both legal and illegal), poachers, important habitat destruction, ignorance, indiscriminate killing of insects, wildlife and people around the world. Ethnic Cleansing, Hitler’s Holocaust and millions upon millions of beautiful men, woman and children who’ve been killed in many different wars around the world and also preyed upon by their fellow man. Sometimes, simply because the “prey” was a different color, race, religion, creed, nationality or for even thinking, acting or looking differently than the majority is all it might take. And it’s still happening to this day somewhere on this planet.

Motor vehicles are another extension of human predation on any and all living things that might cross its path. We manufacture and drive faster motor vehicles than ever and are putting more vehicles and people on our roads every day. Couple this with a burgeoning wildlife and human population that needs to get from one side of the road to the other or point A to point B.
Vehicle accident rates are on the rise with no resolution in site. There are more and more large mammals, deer, bear, small mammals, reptiles, domestic animals, pets and people who are killed on blacktop killing fields aka roads, super-highways, thruways, turnpikes each and every day of the year. Some species are even making a living from the road kills or maiming and even benefit from these killing fields and they are: vultures, scavengers, coroners and lawyers.

How can any of these carnages and waste of valuable life be prevented is anybody’s guess or theory. Was man put on this earth to kill any and all of God’s creatures both big and small, including his fellow man, for no sound reason - like there’s no tomorrow? I don’t think so. 

Some primitive people and native cultures believed animals had souls. Still they hunted and consumed their prey for sustenance but gave thanks to the spirits on their successful hunts. Modern man - for the most part - has drifted away from natural hunting, gathering of wild foods and furs. He’s even gotten out of the business of raising his own foods, meats and vegetables. Some folks who would never think of doing their own hunting, fishing and consuming wild edibles and may be also be anti-hunting and anti-fishing - think nothing of paying someone else to supply their meats and fish while not even knowing the source.

So, who or what [do you think] is the most dangerous predator known to man?

Peace to all.
, , frank carbone jr.