Given the growth of the urban area and the invasion of natural areas, endemic wildlife has had to migrate to the cities, which has generated a 40 percent increase in the attack of wild animals on people; mostly snakes, whose bites increased 46.42 percent compared to the previous year, with a record incidence of one snake attack every three days in average.
In 2022, 130 snake bites were reported, which represents a growth of 52.94 percent, compared to 85 in 2021.
This is the highest figure in the last 11 years.
The problem seems to be increasing, taking into account that so far in January alone two minors were bitten by snakes: On Wednesday the fifth in the Petulillo police station, in Peto, a three year old minor was attacked by a Four Nosed Snake while walking in the yard of her house, and on Wednesday the 18th, in the municipality of Felipe Carrillo Puerto, in Quintana Roo, a 12 year old girl was attacked while washing dishes in the yard of her house with her mother.
Another case that attracted attention was recorded last September, when a resident of Conkal found an Ekuneil in the patio of her house, the second largest snake on the Peninsula. That same month, a 26 year old man was attacked by a Rattlesnake in Tizimín.
Pedro Enrique Nahuat Cervera, biologist and director of the group Kuneil Península de Yucatán, explained that population growth brings man closer to nature and snakes, and detailed that in the Peninsula there are 58 types, but only five represent a risk to people, less than 10 percent.
“To build we throw away the jungle, which is home to snakes, and they seek refuge in houses, developments and in the gardens of homes that are constantly watered, this attracts frogs, which are food for snakes or we accumulate garbage, which attracts mice, which are also food for them,” exposed Nahuat Cervera.
The recommendation to keep snakes out of homes is to keep them clean, tidy and eliminate possible refuges, such as boxes, blocks, logs, etc. If a snake is detected, remain calm, do not lose sight of it and contact emergency services.
Data from the Ministry of Health revealed that, during the course of 2022, the increase in wild animal bites grew 40 percent in the state. In addition to snake bites, 402 people were attended in attacks by mammals, with an increase of 16.18 percent, since in 2021 there were 346 incidents committed by cats, skunks, raccoons, etc.
Similarly, cases of “traumatic contact with wasps, hornets and bees” increased by 26.83 percent, from 82 cases to 104 hospitalized in 2022.
To a lesser extent were attacks by venomous animals, with 54 cases of “poisoning by animal poisoning,” in 2022, with an increase of 42.11 percent, since in 2021 there were 38 people assaulted by spiders and bedbugs, among other animals.
Also, according to the federal SS, there were 54 people with “intoxication due to scorpion bites“, with an increase of 28 percent, since in 2021 there were 25 people affected.
For the Yucatan Ministry of Health (SSY) the biggest problem is registered during the hot season, as wild animals enter houses looking for water and shade, and when there are heavy rains the fauna seeks refuge.
Specialists agreed that in Mérida these incidents are due to the invasion of natural areas, from subdivisions that are built with authorization from the Comuna without respecting the use of land and without an environmental impact study, so the problem will increase.
“With the invasion of natural areas by developers, wild animals can only adapt to their new habitat and become transmitters of diseases, such as Chagas disease, as well as hypovolemic shock due to bee stings,” said Etienne Waleclx, a specialist from the Centro de Investigaciones Regionales “Dr Hideyo Noguchi” of the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán (UADY).
The researcher pointed out that the growth of the urban sprawl invades the habitat of numerous species and, consequently, causes humans to be attacked by wild animals, leaving injuries and transmitting diseases.
Lilia Emma Carrillo Sánchez, a specialist at the Natural Resources Unit of the Yucatán Center for Scientific Research (CICY), pointed out that with the deforestation occurring in the municipalities surrounding the Yucatan capital, numerous species come to Mérida, taking advantage of the wooded areas.
She pointed out that in the case of the CICY Botanical Garden, in recent years there has been an increase in the presence of raccoons, coatis, squirrels, “among other mammals that successfully cross the Peripheral Ring Road, as well as numerous birds and iguanas.“
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