Why does wildlife have to pay a price for just being wild? That is the question Friends of Animals undertakes in a special section, “Wildlife Matters,” in our spring issue of Action Line, which comes out next month.
We will discuss how when animals attack humans in the wild, it’s usually humans who are at fault. Adapting human behavior is key to truly peacefully co-existing with nature—that means stopping risk-enhancing antics, and treating our neighbors in nature with respect and tolerance.
A new study in the journal Scientific Reports, “Human behavior can trigger large carnivore attacks in developed countries,” underscores our article. A group of researchers from Europe and Canada analyzed data on 697 documented attacks on humans by large carnivores, including bears, cougars and coyotes, in North America, Russia and two countries in Europe.
They found that nearly half of all the observed attacks, which occurred between 1955 and 2014, involved risky behaviors on the part of the human victim.
The most common of those risky behaviors? Leaving a child unattended in the wilderness. The data suggests that most people who explore the outdoors have no idea just how dangerous these habitats really are, according to the researchers.
“A lot of what people do is based on a total lack of knowledge about what is dangerous and what isn’t,” Stephen Herrero, a researcher from the University of Calgary who was involved in the study, told the Canadian Broadcasting Company. “Half of the attacks could have probably been avoided if people had done some pretty simple things.”
The study also points out that educational and interpretive efforts aimed at decreasing the risk of large carnivore attacks should not focus exclusively on people living in rural and wilderness areas; many people living in cities should also be included within the category of groups at risk as because of the increasing number of them enjoying outdoor activities in areas inhabited by large carnivores and the expanding population of carnivores (mainly coyotes) in suburban areas.