A Minnesota teen has survived what is being called the first confirmed wolf attack in the Midwestern state.
Noah Graham, 16, went camping with family and friends last weekend along Lake Winnibigoshish in the Chippewa National Forest, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. On Saturday, Aug. 24, he slept outside the tents along the lakeshore. At about 4 a.m., he was attacked by a wolf that approached him from behind.
“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,” the boy's father, Scott, told CBS Minnesota station WCCO. “And he had to shout at it and kick at it to get it to go away."
The incident left Graham with some head wounds.
“He’s got puncture wounds on his head and an 11-centimeter (4.3-inch) wound that had to be closed,” Cheri Zeppelin, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' Northeast Region information officer in Grand Rapids, told the Duluth News Tribune.
A 75-pound gray, male timber wolf was eventually captured by trappers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to WCCO. He was shot, killed and sent for rabies testing at the University of Minnesota veterinary diagnostic lab. A cursory exam showed the animal had a deformed jaw and likely had trouble hunting in the wild. This might explain why he attacked Graham, since wolves typically avoid humans.
Tom Provost, DNR regional enforcement supervisor in Grand Rapids, called the incident a "freak deal," telling the Duluth News Tribune “[i]t’s the first one I’m aware of [in Minnesota]. I’m not aware of another where there was physical damage to the victim.”
"There were no other wolves witnessed throughout this event," Provost said, per NBC Minnesota's KARE 11. "Just by its behavior and the fact that it was letting itself be seen that close to humans and actually approaching humans, it is incredibly abnormal behavior and I would not suspect that there is other wolves involved."
There have been only two documented killings of people by wolves in North America over the last 10 years, the DNR noted. One was in northern Canada and the other in Alaska.