by Greg Walcher, E&E Legal Senior Policy Fellow
As appearing in the Daily Sentinel
A little girl was playing in the ocean with her family at Huntington Beach, California, when a coyote came charging across the sand and attacked, putting the little girl in the hospital. Another coyote went after a child on her home’s front porch in Dallas.
Human encounters with angry wildlife are rare but seem to be increasing in recent years. It isn’t just the number of wildlife attacks, but their location, increasingly outside the animals’ natural habitat. People hiking in the mountains have always been vulnerable, but some highly publicized recent encounters have occurred not in the mountains, but in cities, towns and neighborhoods.
A 650-pound moose crossed six lanes of rush-hour traffic in downtown Colorado Springs in 2020 before wildlife officials were able to capture and relocate it back to the mountains. Last year another moose made it to a backyard in the small town of Strasburg, on the plains 40 miles east of Denver. A bull elk stopped traffic in downtown Salt Lake City last month, as has happened in Greenville, South Carolina, Billings, Montana, Lakewood and dozens of other cities.
Unfortunately, wildlife confrontations are not always peaceful. One black bear killed a woman in Durango, another attacked a 10-year-old boy in his Connecticut backyard, and another busted through a Medford, Wisconsin, window to attack a couple inside their home. Recent bear attacks were also reported in Asheville, North Carolina, and Strafford, Vermont, among others. Seventy people have been killed by brown bears in the U.S., 54 by black bears, at least 39 by alligators and 57 by snakes. The most dangerous place seems to be Texas, where 520 people have been killed by animals in the past 20 years.