Wild animal attacks are a unique subset of injuries. Multiple injuries in any combination occur such as extensive complex lacerations and puncture wounds, crush injuries, evisceration, and blunt trauma. In addition to the challenge of managing these in less than ideal environments, there is often a hysteria that goes along with these types of attacks. Mainstream news headlines such as the mauling and subsequent eating of the “Grizzly Man” Timothy Treadwill and his girlfriend by bears in Alaska; Steve Irwin's unnerving demise after a “freak” accident involving a stingray (AP, 2006); and the tiger attack on Roy of Siegfried and Roy have served to feed into public misunderstanding of wild creatures and their behaviors (Marquez, 2003; Herzog, 2005). In this chapter, we will explore prevention, management, and treatment of bites and injuries inflicted by large and small mammals, herbivores, predators, large birds, reptiles, and hazardous aquatic life.
In the United States, 2 million to 4.5 million animal bites occur annually. Only 1% of these require hospitalization. The majority of these reported bites are dogs (80–85%) and cats (10%), with other animals (rodents, rabbits, horses, raccoons, bats, skunks, and monkeys) making up the remaining 5–10% (2006).
A study done in the United States estimated 177 animal-related fatalities a year (excluding zoonotic infections and animal–vehicle collisions), and 61% of these fatalities were caused by nonvenomous animals. The majority of these cases were caused by “other specified animal” on chart review.