The first official reporting of a gray wolf attack in Minnesota occurred on Saturday at the West Winnie Campground located on Lake Winnibigoshish. The victim, a sixteen-year-old boy named Noah Graham, was attacked and bitten in the head by a 75 pound gray wolf, which appeared in the early morning hours close to 4 a.m. when Noah was preparing to fall asleep. Noah was in the vicinity of the campsite's beach area with members from his church when the attack happened.
Scott Graham, the boy's father, spoke about the ordeal. “The wolf just came up behind Noah, he didn’t hear anything, and it just grabbed him by the back of the head and wouldn’t let go. He had to physically pry the jaws of the wolf open, to get it off of him, and once he got it off of him and he was up, the wolf stood there growling at him. And he had to shout at it and kick at it to get it to go away.”
The Department of Natural Resources reports that this is the first known human attack in Minnesota by a gray wolf, which is also called a timber wolf. The enforcement director for the Department of Natural Resources, Colonel Ken Soring, said, "Our records do not reflect that we've had wolf attacks like this in Minnesota."
Authorities tracked and killed the wolf responsible for the attack in order to test for rabies where the University of Minnesota veterinary lab will be responsible for completing the tests. What could have triggered this rare display of aggression? The wolf was noted as having a deformed jaw, which could have been a contributing factor in the attack. Due to the abnormally-shaped jawline, the wolf may have potentially struggled with the process of tracking, locating, and consuming food.
Are campsites safe? Should other campers be readily prepared to confront wolves while enjoying the wilderness? Colonel Soring surmised the situation. "It's too early to speculate as far as the condition or the causes with this animal, but it is not characteristic of wolves to approach people," he said.
Noah Graham is fortunate to have responded quickly to the situation. His recovery includes the placement of 17 stitches in the back of his head as well as undergoing shots as part of rabies precautionary measures.[Image via Wikimedia Commons]