In June 2016, a 2-year-old boy was playing near the water at a Disney World resort when an alligator attacked and killed him. A black bear attacked a woman running the marathon in New Mexico a few days later. In Colorado, a mum fought off a mountain lion to save her 5-year-old son, who was attacked in their backyard.
Even when the headlines about wildlife don’t involve attacks — a bear is spotted swimming in a backyard pool, for example, or a great white shark is tagged off the coast of Cape Cod — we are still vividly reminded that America is not only our home, but also the home to some dangerous, wild predators. And sometimes these creatures are closer than we think.
But how dangerous are these animals really? How afraid of them should we be? Well, it turns out, we shouldn’t be too afraid since the animals we fear most might not actually be the most deadly. For example, dogs, deer, and cows kill more Americans every year than bears, sharks, or alligators.
So from sharks to scorpions, here is a look at five creatures that most normal Americans fear, where they live, and just how dangerous they really are.
Dragan Radovanovic and Simone M. Scully contributed to this story.