Well it was only a matter of time, now it’s time to start increasing the number of wolf tags with the new wolf hunting season to help bring back the moose and deer populations and stop the potential increase in future human attacks.
A 16-year-old boy camping outside in northern Minnesota was roused in the predawn hours by the pressure of a wolf’s jaws clamping down on his skull and face.
While not fully confirmed, that’s the unlikely scenario authorities are investigating after a wolf apparently attacked the boy last weekend on the shore of Lake Winnibigoshish, possibly after tearing through other campers’ tents earlier in the evening.
The teen suffered non-life-threatening injuries — cuts to his head and puncture wounds to his face — in the incident, which happened between 4 and 4:30 a.m. Saturday at the West Winnie Campground of the Chippewa National Forest.
If confirmed, the incident would be the first documented wolf attack of such severity in Minnesota and likely in the continental U.S.
Federal trappers caught the apparent culprit wolf Sunday night or early Monday and killed it Monday morning, ending any sense of immediate danger and prompting wildlife officials to underscore how rare such an occurrence is.
“Freak deal” and “incredibly abnormal behavior” were phrases that Tom Provost, regional manager for enforcement for the Department of Natural Resources in Grand Rapids, used Monday in describing the attack.
There are two documented cases of people being attacked and killed by wolves in North America, one in Alaska and the other in Canada, according to the DNR and a review of scientific literature.
“It’s the first one that I’m aware of where there was actual physical damage to the victim,” Provost said when asked about whether any non-fatal attacks in Minnesota measured up to this one.
Investigators, including University of Minnesota veterinarians, are looking into whether rabies, human habituation or a possibly debilitating jaw condition could explain the attack.
Here’s what happened, according to Provost:
On Friday evening, an animal that several campers said was a wolf caused trouble in the West Winnie Campground, which is operated by the U.S. Forest Service. The animal tore through at least two tents, puncturing an air mattress in one. Some campers later told authorities that the animal matched the wolf that was trapped and killed Monday.
The 16-year-old boy who was attacked was camping with his family and friends. He was lying alone outside the tents, along the lakeshore. The others were inside tents a short distance away. Between 4 and 4:30 a.m. Saturday, a large “dog-like animal” approached the boy from the rear without being detected, Provost said.
“Before he knew it, it had bitten him in the back of the head,” Provost said. The DNR wouldn’t identify the boy but said he lives in northern Minnesota.
The boy freed himself from the canine’s jaws, but it didn’t retreat.
“He had to kick it before it retreated,” Provost said.
The boy’s friends and family gave him first aid. He was taken to the Bemidji hospital, where a 4-inch laceration on his head was closed.
Officials from the U.S. Forest Service, DNR and Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe arrived on the scene and saw a wolf. They tried to surround it, but it escaped. Some time later, a DNR officer saw a wolf a quarter mile away. The wolf approached the officer, who fired once with his handgun but missed. The wolf then ran off.
Authorities theorized that all the sightings, as well as the attack, involved the same animal. Officials called in trappers under contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They set traps overnight Sunday. One wolf was found Monday morning and shot.
Authorities were planning DNA tests that could determine with certainty whether the wolf — a 75-pound male — was the animal that attacked the boy.
While the wolf appeared to be of average weight for its size, Provost said an initial examination by a veterinarian revealed a jaw defect that prevented the animal’s jaws from aligning properly, as well as a missing tooth.
“It was preliminarily thought that it could have been struggling to feed itself in a normal wolf manner,” Provost said. Perhaps the wolf was unable to take down a deer, and perhaps it knew the campground might be a source of food, Provost said, emphasizing that he was speculating.
Rabies test results on the dead wolf are expected Tuesday or Wednesday.
Until a few years ago, the number of documented wolf killings of people in the history of North America was zero, according to the most authoritative research on the topic, “A Case History of Wolf-Human Encounters in Alaska and Canada,” published in 2002 by Mark E. McNay of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
In his examination of 80 instances where wolves showed a lack of fear around people — and in some cases did attack — McKay found three cases where wolves appeared to see humans as prey. All involved small children, and two involved wolves that had been habituated to people.
Since his report was published, two adults — one in Canada and one in Alaska — have been killed by wolves.
The West Winnie Campground remained closed Monday. Traps were being set for another night to make sure there are no other wolves in the area.
The DNR offers the following tips for an encounter with an aggressive wolf:
In the rare event that you do have an encounter with an aggressive wolf:
— Don’t run. 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. 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 noisemakers.
— Use bear spray or firearms if necessary.
— Climb a tree if necessary; wolves cannot climb trees.
Via: Pioneer Press