Russian news agencies reported this week that a man in the Rostov region in southern Russia strangled a wild wolf to death after the animal started attacking him and a woman near Volgodonsk. According to RT, the wolf came into the man;s village at dawn and began biting a woman who was doing yard work outside her house. The commotion attracted the attention of a dog walker who was passing by. The dog owner attempted to beat off the wolf with a stick, but not without earning several bites in return. Finally, the man says he was forced to strangle the animal with his bare hands.

Of course, there is a healthy amount of skepticism over this account of events. Stories of humans fighting off, or killing animals with their bare hands are often fabricated, as was the case earlier this month when a man in central California claimed to break a mountain lion’s neck. Former wrestler Robin Olson said he was hiking near the Prefumo Canyon trail in early February when he encountered a large cougar. The cat attacked, and Olson told reporters that he was able to get the predator in a stranglehold, ultimately killing it. The hiker later confessed to wildlife officials that the entire story was a fabrication.

In this case however, officials have proof. Wounds on the man’s body and the wolf’s recovered carcass seemed to corroborate his story. Unfortunately, the man’s good deed may also require more than a couple stitches. Veterinarians who examined the wolf told RIA Novosti that the canine was infected with rabies, and the man will likely have to go through the painful process of rabies shots. Officials have also carried out a vaccination of nearby domestic animals as cases of rabies have been growing in the area.

Dogs, like wolves, are susceptible to contracting rabies from other animals, although it is relatively uncommon. This is especially true since routine vaccination of dogs keeps the disease down to a minimum. Rabid animals are more likely to behave strangely and attack humans. Wolf attacks in the US are rare, but not unheard of. About three years ago, a 16-year-old in Minnesota was attacked by what was at the time believed to be a rabid wolf. You can watch an interview with that teen below:

Image from Tambako The Jaguar on the flickr Creative Commons

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