A gray wolf that attacked a 16-year-old boy camping in Minnesota has tested negative for rabies, deepening the mystery of the almost unheard-of strike.
The teen, Noah Graham, had awoken on Saturday August 24 feeling something on his head, according to local news accounts. Reaching back, he discovered that the “something” was a 75-pound wolf, and that its jaws were clamped around part of his head. The boy pried his head loose, receiving puncture wounds and a four-inch laceration that required 17 stitches, the Bemidji Pioneer reported.
“I had to reach behind me and jerk my head out of its mouth,” he told the newspaper. “After I got up, I was kicking at it and screaming at it and it wouldn’t leave. But then after awhile I got it to run away.”
Wildlife authorities trapped and killed the animal later. They noted that it had a misshapen jaw that perhaps kept it from hunting larger prey the way wolves normally do.
The incident took place at West Winnie Campground at Lake Winnibigoshish in the Chippewa National Forest, while Noah was lying outside his tent. Two companions slept through the 4 a.m. attack, while his girlfriend, who awoke, fled to the car, ABC News reported.
Wildlife authorities emphasized that such an attack is “extremely rare and unusual,” as Chris Niskanen of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources put it to the Bemidji Pioneer.
Wolves have been besieged in a number of states as their numbers bounce back from the endangered list and they become a threat to livestock. But this was the first documented wolf attack on a human in Minnesota, said a regional manager of the Department of Natural Resources, Tom Provost, to the newspaper. Of the two fatal wolf attacks ever recorded, one was way up in northern Canada, and the other in Alaska, the newspaper said.
Wolves are predators, though, and this one had the stealth thing down.
“There was no sound at all,” Noah told the Bemidji Pioneer. “Didn’t hear it. It was just all of a sudden there.”