Discover the Most Dangerous (Deadliest!) Animals in Utah

What dangerous animals might you find in the deserts, forests, and wetlands of Utah? This state has a mix of habitats that are home to a wide variety of wildlife. Utah is also where you can find the Great Salt Lake, the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere. What dangerous animals might be lurking in a giant Salt Lake? Let’s find out about some of the most dangerous animals in Utah!

Are There Dangerous Animals In The Great Salt Lake?

The only animals that can survive in the Great Salt Lake are tiny brine shrimp…and they are not dangerous!

Picture CreditBella Bender/

The question should be “Are there any animals in the Great Salt Lake at all?” Because the Great Salt Lake has such a high concentration of salt, there are very few plants and only one animal that can survive in it. There are a variety of plants and animals that live around the lake and in the marshes that surround it. Plants that are in the Great Salt Lake are halophytes, salt grass, and pickleweed. The only animal that can survive in the Great Salt Lake is the brine shrimp. These are tiny crustaceans, only a half-inch long, that swim upside down. They have two distinct black eyes and a pinkish-orange translucent body lined with tiny legs. Brine shrimp are not the most dangerous animals in Utah. In fact, they are not dangerous at all!

Can Sharks Live In The Great Salt Lake?

Sharks are dangerous animals, but they do not live in Utah. You might think that because the Great Salt Lake is salty like the ocean, it could support marine animals like the shark, but it is too salty. The salt concentration in the lake at its average elevation is 13%. Even bull sharks that can live in both freshwater and saltwater could not survive in the Great Salt Lake. Utah can boast that it does not have any shark attacks.

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What Animals Live In The Desert Of Utah?

Lizard Gila Monster( Heloderma suspectum) on sand
Gila monsters are venomous, but they spend 95% of their time underground.

Picture CreditVaclav Sebek/

  • Gila Monsters: These animals certainly have a scary name, but are they dangerous? They are large lizards that can be almost 2 feet long. They are venomous, but spend 95% of their time underground. This makes it highly unlikely you would ever see one. There are no reported human deaths from Gila monsters.
  • Rattlesnakes: There is variety of rattlesnakes in Utah, including the Great Basin rattlesnake, which is the most common. The midget-faded rattlesnake is another rattlesnake in Utah. Its venom is extremely toxic, however, it rarely injects its full volume. If you get bitten by a venomous snake, you should seek medical attention immediately.
  • Arizona Bark Scorpion: Arizona bark scorpions are one of the most dangerous animals in Utah. They are both venomous and frequently come in contact with humans. These venomous scorpions cross the border from Arizona and can mainly be found in Kane County in Utah. Their bites are painful and can cause pain, nausea, and vomiting, but are rarely fatal. You should seek immediate medical attention if you are bit by a scorpion.

What Dangerous Animals Live In The Mountains Of Utah?

Black Bears - bear with cubs
There are about 4,000 black bears in Utah. Black bears can be dangerous, but attacks on humans are rare.

Picture CreditDebbie Steinhausser/

  • Black bears: There are an estimated 4,000 black bears in Utah. A large population of black bears lives in Zion National Park. Black bears are dangerous animals. They have 2-inch long claws, sharp teeth, and can act very aggressively. However, bear attacks in Utah are very rare. There have been only 8 bear encounters, including one fatality, in the state since 2005.
  • mountain lions: Mountain lions are dangerous animals, but rarely encounter humans. They roam through the mountains and deserts and prefer to keep to their own. There are an estimated 2,700 mountain lions in Utah (commonly called cougars or puma). On May 13, 2021, a runner was confronted by a mountain lion on the Broad Fork trail in Big Cottonwood Canyon. A second incident occurred a few months later in Slate Canyon when a runner came across a mother mountain lion and her cubs. The man caught the incident on video which showed the mountain lion following him hissing and lunging. Neither incident resulted in any injuries.

What Dangerous Animals Live On Antelope Island In Utah?

European Bison
Bison can be 2,000lbs and are more aggressive during mating season. There are 500-700 bison on Antelope Island.

Picture CreditSzczepan Klejbuk/

  • Bison: Bison are dangerous animals in Utah. They are the largest mammals in North America and can be up to 2,000lbs! How did these giant animals end up on an island? The first bison were brought to the island by boat back in 1893 by William Glassman and John Dooly. These 12 original bison led to the large Antelope Island Herd of 500-700 today, the third largest public herd in the United States. Although bison attacks are rare, they do happen. There have only been four bison attacks on Antelope Island since 2013, but one in August 2020 was fatal. A 55-year-old trail runner was found on the trail by a couple of hikers who called 911. The man was flown to a local hospital where he passed away due to his injuries. Park officials remind people to keep their distance from bison and other wildlife. Bison are one of the most dangerous animals in Utah because they can become aggressive quickly.
  • Coyote: Coyotes are another set of dangerous animals that live on Antelope Island. Coyotes hunt mule deers and antelopes. There is a good balance of predators and prey on the island. Smaller than wolves, coyotes are still dangerous because they are clever and quick. However, they rarely attack humans and prefer to stay away from them. In Salt Lake City in the sugar house neighborhood, a coyote was spotted wandering from house to house apparently looking for food. Unfortunately, it seems lunch was someone’s pet cat. Coyotes are dangerous to small dogs and cats. Authorities encourage people to keep an eye on small pets if coyotes have been sighted in the area. Wild Aware Utah encourage people to keep garbage cans sealed, to not leave out pet food, and to remove bird feeders. During times when food is scarce, coyotes wander into residential areas in search for food.

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