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Why shark attacks could be on the rise around the world

Published: Monday, May 23, 2016 @ 1:05 PM
Updated: Tuesday, April 11, 2017 @ 12:17 PM

Why Sharks are Attacking More People

Last year, 107 people in different parts of the world were bitten by sharks. Eight of those 107 people died.

While 107 may not seem like a large number when you are talking about a global issue, when it comes to shark and human interaction, that many "unprovoked" attacks mean it was a record-setting year.  

The  International Shark Attack File, the longest maintained database on worldwide shark attacks,  said it investigated 164 reports in 2015. The group classifies an "unprovoked attack" as an incident "where an attack on a live human occurs in the shark’s natural habitat with no human provocation of the shark.”

>>Got a question about the news? See our explainers here 

A study released by the group blamed warmer waters and a jump in coastal population for the spike in numbers. The study said, in part:

 “As world population continues its upsurge and interest in aquatic recreation concurrently rises, we realistically should expect increases in the number of shark attacks and other aquatic recreation-related injuries …

“Shark populations are actually declining or holding at greatly reduced levels in many areas of the world as a result of over-fishing and habitat loss, theoretically reducing the opportunity for these shark-human interactions.

“However, year-to-year variability in local meteorological, oceanographic, and socioeconomic conditions also significantly influences the local abundance of sharks and humans in the water and, therefore, the odds of encountering one another.”

Let’s take a look at some numbers.

Are there really more attacks happening?

When you talk about shark bites, researchers say you have to look at the ratio, not the numbers. In other words, are more people bitten by sharks because more people (and maybe more sharks) are in the same water?

"More people are using the ocean now for recreation than ever before, so there is no doubt that we're putting more people in the water," Chris Lowe, professor in the Department of Biological Studies at California State University Long Beach told Men’s Journal last year.

"And while there isn't a lot of good scientific evidence for this yet, I think that some shark populations are increasing due to better fisheries management and improved water quality," he said. "You put more people in the water and add more sharks to coastal areas, you will have more shark-human related interactions."

Professor George Burgess, director of the University of Florida Program for Shark Research, told The Telegraph in a story about 2015's spike in shark bites that, “Unlike in the movies, it’s not usually a one cause and effect type of a situation. More often it’s a combination of factors that might have led to there being more sharks or more humans in the water, but this is clearly a situation where there is something going on.”

What are the odds?

How likely is it that you will be bitten by a shark? Not likely at all. A group of researchers at Stanford University compared records of shark bites with information about how people use the ocean in California.  The found that an ocean swimmer had only one chance in 738 million of being bitten by a great white shark; surfers had a one in 17 million chance, and scuba divers had a one in 136 million chance. 

Who do they attack?

Sharks will likely bite the person who acts like a fish or looks like a seal. If you appear to the shark as his normal food choice – by being on a surfboard, looking sort of seal-like, or splashing around like a fish  –  he’s more likely to go for it. Humans are generally not on his menu.  

Where do they attack?

The United States leads the world in unprovoked shark attacks. Florida leads the United States. While there are more shark bites in the United States, if you are bitten here you are more likely to survive the bite. The fatality rate for shark bites in the U.S. in 2014 was  1.7 percent. For the rest of the world, it was 12.8 percent.

Could we see an increase in shark bite incidents again this year?

We could. If current trends continue, the U.S. coastal regions will see population grow from 123 million people to nearly 134 million people by 2020, according to NOAA.  That doesn't include the millions who vacation on the coasts every year.

Who is most likely to get bitten – man or woman?

Sharks don’t seem to prefer the ladies as 90 percent of shark attack victims are men.  It’s the ratio thing in play again – traditionally more men are swimming, snorkeling and surfing – activities that expose you to the greatest risk for shark attacks. 

Which are sharks responsible for most human bites?

Three species are most responsible for human bites – the bull shark, the tiger shark and the great white shark.

How many sharks are killed each year by humans?

According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, between 20 and 100 million sharks die each year due to fishing activity. 

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Austin bombings: Authorities clear suspect Mark Conditt’s home of explosives, officials say

Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 2:45 PM
Updated: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 2:45 PM

Austin Package Explosions: Suspect Dead

Police continue to investigate a series of deadly bombings in Austin after authorities said the suspect, identified as Mark Anthony Conditt, 23, killed himself early Wednesday.

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Dog viciously killed by owner in driveway, horrified neighbors now seeking justice for Gabriel 

Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2018 @ 10:05 PM

Neighbor Said He Saw Dog Viciously Killed by Owner in Driveway, Is Now Seeking Justice

Residents in North Tulsa, Oklahoma, want justice for a dog they believe was killed by his owner. 

>> Read more trending news 

James Penix said he looked out his window on Feb. 21 after hearing the screams of a dog. Penix said he saw his neighbor killing his dog named Gabriel with a dumbbell in the driveway. 

Penix said he called 9-1-1 and emergency operators referred him to the City of Tulsa's animal control division. But he said responding animal welfare officials allegedly said they could not find the home involved in the dog’s death and left. 

>> Related: United suspends pet cargo service in wake of mix-ups, dog death

Penix began a petition on, calling for justice for Gabriel. It had more than 2,500 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.

Animal Control reopened the investigation and will present possible charges to the Tulsa County District Attorney's Office. 

An update to the petition suggests the neighbor's other dog was taken as evidence and remains in the custody of Animal Welfare. 

>> Related: Girl injured by emotional support dog while boarding Southwest flight

The City of Tulsa responds to animal cruelty reports Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and forwards such calls to Tulsa Police after hours. 

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Parents of bullies could face $500 fine if Pennsylvania bill becomes law

Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 1:31 AM

Being A Parent Of A Bully Could Land You In Jail Under New Anti-Bullying Law

A Pennsylvania lawmaker has introduced legislation that could have parents footing the bill if their child bullies another kid at school.

>> Watch the news report here

It started out as a rule in Sharpsburg.

>> On Parents face fines in new anti-bullying ordinance

WPXI checked with the police officer who enforces the law and he said it is working as a deterrent.

He also said it's raised awareness of how serious bullying is, and the potential consequences.

After Brentwood and Sharpsburg passed local anti-bullying ordinances that fine parents of bullies, a state lawmaker is proposing more encompassing legislation.

State Rep. Frank Burns' bill gives parents three strikes. He's from Cambria County.

>> Read more trending news 

The first time a child bullies someone, the school is required to inform his or her parents how it handled the situation. If it happens a second time, parents would have to take a class on bullying and attend a bullying resolution conference.

The third time, parents would receive a court citation and pay up to a $500 fine.

Punishing parents for the actions of their kids —> Pa lawmaker proposes fining parents $500 for child's bullying.

Posted by WPXI Courtney Brennan on Tuesday, March 13, 2018

In a statement issued last week, the Democrat said bullying can lead to physical assaults and suicide.

He said holding students, parents and officials accountable "is the only way to put an end to this scourge."

The proposal also includes an anonymous bullying reporting system requiring the state education department to track bullying incidents and file monthly reports.

Sharpsburg police have yet to file any citations against parents.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

How to Talk to Kids About Bullying

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Man facing child porn charges after 'gingerbread house' full of explicit photos found in forest

Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 2:03 AM

VIDEO: Man Facing Child Porn Charges After "Gingerbread House" Full of Explicit Photos Found in Forest

A Mill Creek, Washington, man is facing charges after a treehouse was found in the Snoqualmie National Forest with child pornography hanging on the walls inside.

>> Watch the news report here

KIRO-TV first reported on the discovery off the middle fork of the Snoqualmie River in February. The unauthorized treehouse was reported by an employee of the Department of Natural Resources, according to court documents. A DNR worker took a couple of the photographs off the wall to show law enforcement and called the King County Sheriff's Office.

The DNR employee took a detective to the treehouse, which was described in court documents as "an elaborate tree house that resembled a fairy or gingerbread house." The treehouse was about 8 feet off the ground with a porch surrounding it.

>> On Treehouse filled with child porn found near North Bend

Investigators say that inside the treehouse they found photographs of naked young girls framed on the walls. There was also a bed, food, supplies, a book and an electronic keyboard.

They found an envelope with more pornographic images.

The King County Sheriff's Office handed the case over to the FBI to investigate. The FBI sent KIRO-TV new photos of the house on Monday.

The FBI searched the cabin in April 2017 and collected items to test for fingerprints and DNA to find out who built the cabin.

They took construction photos, smoking material, bedding, glasses, photos of girls, bags of batteries and glass from the photograph frames.

They sent the items to the FBI laboratory in Quantico.

Federal investigators said they also talked to a Search and Rescue volunteer who said he had seen an SUV near the cabin on multiple occasions, and he had the license plate information. Investigators tracked down the owner of the vehicle and watched him.

>> Read more trending news 

Investigators said they took a swab from the handle of his motorcycle and later got a paper drinking cup he discarded. Those items were also sent to the lab in Quantico.

According to court documents, the items tested at Quantico positively identified the 56-year-old Mill Creek man. Court records show Daniel Wood, of Mill Creek, has been charged with two counts of child pornography possession.

FBI agents searched Woods condominium in Mill Creek in February and collected his computers, Amazon Fire, SD cards, Polaroid tablet, VHS tapes and video recorder.

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