Wolf bites teenager camping by Winnie

Deer River, Minn. — Forgive Noah Graham if he doesn’t want to sleep beneath the stars again.

The 16-year-old from Solway is apparently the first person in the state to have received serious injuries after being attacked by a wolf. The incident occurred at about 4 a.m. Saturday when the teen and others were camping at the West Winnie Campground on Lake Winnibigoshish.

“He was down by the lake visiting his girlfriend,” Noah’s father, Scott, said. “The wolf came up behind him and grabbed him by the back of the head. It just grabbed him and started pulling him backwards.

“He grabbed it by the snout and ripped it off his head,” he added.

Noah, his father said, didn’t hear the wolf approaching, and didn’t know anything was amiss until the animal’s jaws were clamped on his head. The wolf left an 11-centimeter laceration in the teen’s head, and his injuries required 17 staples to close.

DNR officials called the attack “a freak deal.” And if it’s confirmed that a wolf is responsible for Graham’s injuries, it would be the first documented instance of a wolf causing serious injury or death to a human in Minnesota.

“This is an extremely rare incident and not normal wolf behavior,” said Tom Provost, DNR regional Enforcement manager in Grand Rapids. “Because wolf bites or attacks on humans are so rare, they are poorly understood. These rare incidents have usually involved food-habituated wolves and have led to minor injuries, but no fatalities.”

As the attack occurred, Noah’s girlfriend ran to her Jeep. Once he pried the wolf’s jaws from his head, Noah and the wolf had “a showdown,” Scott Graham said.

“It stood there growling at him and wouldn’t leave,” he said.

After Noah yelled and kicked at the wolf, it went back into the woods. Then he called his dad.

“He called me right away and said, ‘Dad, I just got attacked by a wolf,’” Scott Graham said. “I asked him if he was OK, and he said his head was bleeding. So I told him to call 911.”

A friend drove Noah to the hospital in Bemidji, where he was treated for his injuries and released. Hospital officials also gave him shots for rabies, though it’s unclear if the wolf had rabies or not.

After the incident, officers from the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, U.S. Forest Service, and DNR arrived on the scene and began to collect information.

According to the DNR, statements from other campers indicated there were other incidents at the U.S. Forest Service campground where an animal bit through tents, one resulting in the puncturing of an air mattress. Another camper indicated he saw a wolf near his campsite with coloration and markings matching the description of the animal involved in the attack on Graham.

While officers were surveying the scene, they saw what they believed to be a wolf in the woods near the campground. They attempted to create a perimeter around the animal in an attempt to kill it, but were unsuccessful.

A short time later, about one-quarter mile away, a DNR officer saw a wolf that matched the description of the one that reportedly attacked Graham.

“He was able to take one shot with a handgun, but did not hit the wolf,” Provost said.

Officials then called in trappers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, who set traps in the area. Early Monday, they trapped and killed a wolf that matched the description of the one that attacked Graham.

The animal, “an average-sized male,” weighed 75 pounds. The wolf was taken to the University of Minnesota veterinary diagnostic lab to be tested for rabies.

An early examination showed the wolf had an abnormality in its jaw structure. The lower jaw did not match up with the top jaw, and it was missing at least one canine tooth, Provost said. That could have affected its ability to take down large prey, like deer, he said.

“When it all comes down to it, if this is the offending animal, I do believe the physical abnormality in its jaw” caused its behavior, Provost said.

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, Social Media

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *