General Outdoors News

Tests Confirm Trapped Wolf’s Involvement in Attack on Minnesota Teen

This roughly 75-pound wolf was trapped two days after it attacked a Minnesota camper.

This roughly 75-pound wolf was trapped two days after it attacked a Minnesota camper.

Officials with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have announced that DNA tests have confirmed a gray wolf trapped and killed on August 26 was the same one that attacked a teen at a local campground two days earlier.

“We were confident that the wolf involved in the attack was removed based on the description and location of the wolf captured following the incident,” Michelle Carstensen, a program supervisor with the DNR, said in a statement. “DNA results provide further assurance that the wolf we captured was the animal involved.”

The incident was the first reported wolf attack on a human in Minnesota history. The victim, 16-year-old Noah Graham, is now recovering after sustaining non-life-threatening injuries to the back of his head. Graham was camping at the West Winnie Campground near Lake Winnibigoshush with friends from church when the incident occurred. The group had bedded down and was preparing to sleep early in the morning of August 24 when the wolf approached. The animal was a young 75-pound male that the DNR estimated to be less than two years old. Male gray wolves usually reach sexual maturity at two years of age.

The wolf surprised Graham from behind and began biting the teen’s head, leaving various puncture wounds and lacerations. Graham was able to wrestle the wolf off and eventually drive it away with shouts and kicks. DNR biologists say it is very rare for wolves to approach humans or scavenge near areas with a lot of people. Officials explain that this particular wolf may have been an exception due to crippling deformities that forced it to rely on scraps found on the campground.

A necropsy revealed severe facial and dental deformities as well as signs of brain damage potentially due to infection. The veterinarian who performed the necropsy, Anibal G. Armien, said it was possible that the wolf suffered a severe injury when it was younger.

“We can’t know with certainty why this wolf approached and bit the teen,” Carstensen said. “But the necropsy results support the possibility that its facial deformity, dental abnormalities and brain damage predisposed it to be less wary of people and human activities than what is normally observed in healthy wild wolves and also affected its ability to effectively capture wild prey.”

The wolf did not have rabies. The U.S Forest Service has since reopened the campground to visitors.

Experts with the Minnesota DNR also provide the following tips when dealing with wolves.

Don’t make homes or camps attractive to wild animals:

  • Keep a clean camp; don’t dispose of food by dumping into the campfire.
  • Don’t leave unwashed cooking utensils around your camp.
  • Don’t leave garbage unsecured.
  • Don’t cook food near your tent or sleeping area.
  • Don’t allow pets to freely roam away from your home or camp.
  • Don’t leave pet food or other food attractants out near your home or camp.
  • Don’t bury garbage, pack it out.

In the rare event that you do have an encounter with an aggressive wolf:

  • Don’t run, but act aggressively, stepping toward the wolf and yelling or clapping your hands if it tries to approach.
  • Do not turn your back toward an aggressive wolf, but continue to stare directly at it. If you are with a companion and more than one wolf is present place yourselves back to back and slowly move away from the wolves.
  • Retreat slowly while facing the wolf and act aggressively.
  • Stand your ground if a wolf attacks and fight with any means possible (use sticks, rocks, ski poles, fishing rods or whatever you can find).
  • Use air horns or other noise makers.
  • Use bear spray or firearms if necessary.

Image courtesy Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Any views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of OutdoorHub. Comments on this article reflect the sole opinions of their writers.
  • JBnID

    Please tell me again why these things have been re-introduced into the wild in the Western states?
    I thought the libs were ‘for the children’.

  • Joey

    Because they were here first. They are native to many areas of the US and we took their home from them. It’s only right that we share nature with all of the native plants and animals. Including many predators.

    • Jay

      false. gray wolves were not here first, they are much larger than the original inhabitants.
      just another case of the blind leading the blind following the blind.

    • brucelanc

      Oh good. I like your logic. Please follow your own logic.. I’m older than you. I was here first. Get out of my country.

  • Pitmaster

    Forget the sticks, fishing poles, and rocks for self defense. Always carry an appropriate caliber pistol with you. Always.

  • MONTANA

    HEY I HAVE AN IDEA.. DO ALL THE THINGS THAT THIS LIST SAYS NOT TO DO, AND DONT DO ANY OF THE THINGS IT SAYS YOU SHOULD DO.. BECAUSE IF YOUR SO STUPID THAT YOU THINK THAT REINTRODUCING WOLF POPULATION TO AREAS IS A SAFE/ GOOD IDEA.. THEN LET NATRUAL SELECTION TAKE IT COURSE… AND LET US GO AHEAD AND REINTRODUCE A FEW OF THESE SAFE ANIMALS IN TO AREAS LIKE NEW YORK AND WASHINGTON DC…. I WOULD LOVE TO SEE THE REPORTS OF HOW WELL THOSE HUNGRY WOLFS AND GRIZZLIES ARE DOING IN THOSE AREAS!!

  • Kevin

    these are canadian wolves, they are a foreign species. they might as well have introduced siberian tigers. we still had a remnant population of native wild wolves in Wyoming, not any more. now we are finding (and shooting) wolves in and near our towns where they have been preying on local pets. local kids will be next. I agree we should force you bleeding heart enviros back east to have to live with them too, you wiped your wolves out first.

    • Bradley WabiMukwa

      Canadian? Foreign species? As if Gray Wolves recognized your imaginary borders created by europeans a century or so ago. Wolves have roamed across Turtle Island since prehistoric times until the white man came here and began wiping out species like wolves, bison, First Nations people, Unbelievably ignorant….

      • Kevin Bennett

        so Bradley, there are no genetic differences between the grey wolf and the timber wolf (which we had in Wyoming) or say the eastern wolf, or maybe the Mexican wolf, or the red wolf………..keep your ignorance to yourself