Havre Daily News - News you can use

By Pam Burke 

View from the North 40: It's all right there in the numbers


Data analysts say, if you torture the numbers long enough, they’ll tell you anything.

I just read that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has compiled the statistics and crunched the numbers, and the official data says more people in the U.S. get killed by cows every year than get killed by sharks.

In averages taken from between 2001 and 2013, cows killed 20 people per year and sharks killed only one person per year.

In fact, alligators and bears each averaged one death, as well. Venomous snakes and lizards killed six people and spiders seven. So all combined? These frightening creatures of the earth cause fewer deaths than the cows perpetrated.

Even worse, dogs killed an average of 28 people in a year — proving that they ain’t all Lassie, eh? And “other” animals, which the author specifically said included horses and pigs, killed 52 people per year — proving, I guess, they ain’t all Flicka and Wilbur, either.

The only creature higher on the list of top 10 killer animals was the group labeled bees, hornets and wasps.

My algebra skills are pretty rusty, but I still have some rudimentary math left in me and it doesn’t take much math to see that deaths by large predators and creepy poisonous things are minuscule next to the sizable number of deaths by large animals and a common household pet.

Now, I might have just read over this news piece with passing interest, perhaps a chuckle if it was a good day and I was well-rested, or drinking, if I hadn’t just spent a few days at the local fair checking out the 4-H projects. You know 4-H, that youth agricultural program in which teens and young children raise, handle, show, hand feed, pet and bathe these domestic animals that are squarely in the top 10 list of Mother Nature’s little assassins.

Obviously, the best recommendation would be to have the kids start showing the safest three creatures, but the possibility of getting enough bears, alligators and sharks in north-central Montana for all the 4-H members to show by fair time seems highly doubtful. And the logistics of maintaining a shark in the middle of a land-locked high plains desert are a bit sketchy, so we need to throw out logic and embrace what we have.

This is one of the positive things about the 4-H kids, they generally work with what they have and make the most of it. So if they can’t play it safe by taking a shark to the fair for a showmanship class, they have to take a farm and ranch animal and be prepared — be a warrior.

This ag program is training kids to look death square in the eye and put a halter on it, like Knights of the Barnyard of the Order of 4-H. They learn to fight the good fight and put a ribbon it.

It’s that, or death by Bossy the Cow.


A North Dakotan and a Montanan were talking one day about driving in traffic. The North Dakotan just kept talking and talking about how afraid he was of coming into town and driving around the “big city” traffic. The Montanan, trying to make the guy feel less afraid of city driving, told the guy that statistically he was much more likely to die in a car crash within three miles of his home. After hearing this, the North Dakotan drove home — very carefully — then packed up his stuff and moved. Don’t make me have to explain that punch line at pam@viewfromthenorth40.com.


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