Are farm animals the most lethal animals in the United States? Did you know that cats and raccoons are farm animals? So says a report published in the Journal Wilderness and Environmental Medicine.
Outside Online first brought my attention to this report when it published this article referencing the actual report which you can read here for $35 or a $144 annual subscription (or go to a public library like I did).
The point of the article is to make recommendations about where to focus prevention efforts in the area of animal related deaths. I don’t necessarily disagree with the conclusions but I have some problems with the study.
The frequency of animal encounters is not discussed. For example there were 250 deaths from dog interaction but how may dog interactions were there total? There were 509 deaths from hornets, wasps, and bees. But a person encounters far more dogs each year than bees so the difference between the two is more than what the raw number indicates.
The largest category of animals which cause fatalities is the “other mammals” category. This category is composed mainly of “farm animals.” From the report farm animals includes; cows, horses, pigs, cats, and raccoons.
I don’t know how you can consider research complete if the main cause of animal deaths is other mammals. It seems like there is still a bit of work to do to filter that list. I did find this article that puts farmer or rancher on the list of most dangerous jobs but there’s no excuse to not be thorough.
I don’t know anybody on a farm or ranch that raises raccoons and I know many people who own cats and think their beef is raised in the back of the grocery store. What about the smaller variety of mammals that can pass on diseases like the Black Death. Also noticeably absent from the article was any mention of wild mammal encounters such as bears, mountain lions, moose, elk, deer. These aren’t going to sway the numbers much but should be mentioned.
Again, the conclusions are probably right but I’m uncomfortable with prevention policy recommendations based on research that seems incomplete.