Consider this an update to a post in this space written a few years ago by the intrepid Dan MacLeod.
The bad news: The animals who are by far responsible for the most human deaths in America are quite prevalent in Maine.
The good news: Those human deaths aren’t taking place in Maine, for the most part.
No, we’re not talking about alligators, killer bees or venomous snakes.
Prepare to stare into the cold, hardened eyes of America’s deadliest animal.
Yes, we’re talking about deer.
The online casino directory LCB combed through data collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to figure out which animals were responsible for the most human deaths and where (no, I don’t know what that has to do with casinos).
As you probably expected, the approximately 120 human fatalities caused by deer across the country each year are almost entirely car crashes, not cases in which deer are attacking people, although that does happen.
Coming in a distant second among animals responsible for human deaths in the U.S. are stinging insects, like wasps, bees and hornets. But they account for an average of 58 human deaths annually, less than half of the number blamed on deer.
You might have recognized that we have a fair number of deer in Maine — some state estimates have the number approaching a quarter of a million — but those aforementioned fatalities aren’t really taking place here in any great number. If a state has fewer than 10 deaths attributed to a given cause, the CDC won’t report the figures out publicly, because doing so could effectively identify the victims and infringe on their privacy.
And Maine is one of 12 states with so few animal-related deaths that the CDC won’t report the numbers.
We do know based on relatively recent Maine state Department of Transportation data that although there are nearly 3,700 car crashes into deer every single year in this state, an average of one or less of those crashes annually is fatal (to the human).
In contrast, human hunters can claim 20,000-plus deer in the state in any given year, so if one species should be afraid of the other, it’s the deer who should be concerned.
As you can see, the place where the greatest number of these crashes occur is Cumberland County, which is also the most populous county in the state, closely followed by Penobscot County and then Kennebec in a distant third.
The department has released some tips to help avoid crashes with deer and, when unavoidable, make those crashes as safe as possible.
Among the tips: Be particularly alert when driving from dusk until dawn, as deer are more likely to move around in the darker hours, and be aware that when you see one, you’ll likely see more following behind.
If a crash is unavoidable, the DOT suggests applying the brakes, then letting up just before impact, attempting to hit the tail end of the animal and ducking down to minimize injuries.
And as far as encounters on foot, it’s generally not a good idea to approach wild animals and to steer way clear of rutting bucks or mother does with their fawns, who are more territorial.
If you’re curious, worldwide, LCB found that the notoriously temperamental hippopotami are the most deadly mammals, accounting for nearly 3,000 human deaths in Africa each year.