According to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries there are 2 million alligators in Louisiana! Did you read that right? Yes, 2 million! But wait, there is more, that is just the number of alligators in the wild, there are another 1 million that are on alligator farms in Louisiana. Just doing the math, alligators must be the deadliest animal in Louisiana, right? Actually, there are very few attacks by alligators and even fewer fatalities. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission there are only seven unprovoked attacks by alligators per year that require medical attention. The CDC reports only ten people from the southeast states have died from alligator attacks in a twenty-year period between 1999-2019. So, although the number of sharp toothed alligators is high in the state, the risks of being attacked or killed are extremely low.
So, what other dangerous animals live in Louisiana? Are there any venomous or poisonous animals? What about predators like bears? What animals are lurking off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico? Let’s look at some of the most dangerous animals in Louisiana.
Are Killer Bees the most dangerous animal in Louisiana?
It is kind of implied in their name…killer bees. But are they really that deadly? They can potentially be. The problem with killer bees or Africanized bees as they are also called is that they can swarm and multiple bees can sting a person at the same time so although their venom is not stronger than honeybees the amount delivered by multiple stings can be deadly. According to the Smithsonian there have been 1,000 human deaths due to killer bees since they were introduced into Brazil in 1956. They first arrived in the United States in 1990 in Texas and made their way to Louisiana with the first specimens detected in 2005. If you are stung you should seek medical attention. Other bees, wasps and hornets are responsible for an average of 62 deaths per year, mostly from people who are severely allergic to bee stings.
Are there any venomous or poisonous animals in Louisiana?
The most venomous animal in Louisiana is the eastern diamondback rattlesnake which is a pit viper and has a very strong venom. However, in the United States there are an average of 5,000-7,000 snake bites per year with only an average of five fatalities. So, although these snakes are dangerous they are rarely deadly.
Louisiana also has poisonous spiders like the brown recluse spider. The damage from a brown recluse spider is a bite that eats away at the skin tissue and can take months to heal and can even scar. These spiders are only the size of a dime and prefer to be left alone but accidently reaching into a spot that they live can startle them and cause them to bite. Seek medical attention if you believe you have been bitten by a spider.
Louisiana also has black widow spiders which you know have a bad reputation. They are bigger than the brown recluse and are all black with a red hour-glass shape on their back (the females). Their bites are immediately painful and you should seek medical help so they can provide an antivenin. Even with all the spider bites in the U.S. only seven people die on average per year due to spider bites.
What about large predators like bears?
There is actually a subspecies of black bears called the Louisiana black bear that can only be found in Louisiana, Texas and western Mississippi. Bringing black bears to Louisiana is a success story from the efforts of several groups. In 1992 the Louisiana black bear was listed as threatened due to habitat loss, but private landowners, federal and state agencies have created areas that are protected and restored to provide a safe habitat for bears and other animals.
Now there are an estimated 500-750 Louisiana black bears that are alive and well in the United States. These bears are carnivores, but they will eat what they can find – both meat and plant (or human garbage). They can be dangerous to humans, so it is important to follow a few important steps to keep bear/human encounters to a minimum. For example, if you are camping or hiking in bear country you need to be sure to keep all food in sealed containers and for overnight camping use bear safe containers, storing them a safe distance from your sleeping quarters. There were not any bear attacks in Louisiana in 2021 and only eight in total in the U.S., so it is still a very rare occurrence.
What animals are dangerous in the Gulf of Mexico?
The southern shore of Louisiana is along the Gulf of Mexico. Two beaches that may be lesser known but are beautiful are Grand Isle and Cameron Parish. Beach goers who want to remain safe should always pay attention to any flag warnings and follow posted signage. When you think of dangerous animals at the beach your first thought is probably sharks. There are sharks that live in the Gulf just off the shores of Louisiana. The four most common species you could find are bull sharks, spinner sharks, black tip sharks and hammerheads.
There was a great white shark that was tracked off the shores of Louisiana but these are extremely rare. The research group OCEARCH tracked this particular shark, named Unama’ki, which has been followed all the way from Nova Scotia. There have been two shark attacks in Louisiana but that is in the last 100 years. In 1914 a swimmer was attacked and killed by a shark, but the next reported attack wasn’t until August of 2014 where a swimmer was attacked but lived. In the US in 2021 there were only 47 unprovoked shark bites and only one fatality. So the chances of being attacked and/or killed by a shark are extremely low.
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