Published August 28, 2013
A 16-year-old boy who fought off a rare apparent wolf attack in northern Minnesota says he won't be sleeping outside anytime soon.
Noah Graham of Solway was camping on Lake Winnibigoshish with five friends last weekend. He told The Pioneer of Bemidji that he was talking with his girlfriend just before the animal chomped the back of his head early Saturday.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials think it's the first documented serious-injury wolf attack on a human in Minnesota.
The paper points out that wolf attacks are rare. There have been two fatal wolf attacks in North America in the past decades, one in north Canada and the other in Alaska.
As of Tuesday, the DNR was waiting for DNA test results to confirm whether a wolf trapped and killed in the same campground early Monday is the animal that attacked Graham, and for results on whether it had rabies.
Despite a 4-inch gash on his scalp, 17 staples to close the wound and "the worst pain of his life," Graham didn't seem fazed Monday by his encounter, nor the needle that delivered a rabies shot following the attack.
"I had to reach behind me and jerk my head out of its mouth," Graham recalled. "After I got up, I was kicking at it and screaming at it and it wouldn't leave. But then after a while I got it to run away."
The 75-pound male wolf killed Monday had a jaw deformity that prevented its upper and lower teeth from lining up and likely had to scavenge because it wouldn't have been able to kill large prey, said Tom Provost, regional manager for the DNR's enforcement division in Grand Rapids.
Graham said the attack came without warning.
"There was no sound at all. Didn't hear it. It was just all of a sudden there," he said.
Graham's girlfriend fled to her Jeep, while two other members of the camping party slept through all the screaming, kicking and fighting, he said.
Earlier 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.
After Graham was attacked, officials from the Forest Service, DNR and Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe tried unsuccessfully to capture a wolf near the scene.
Later, a wolf approached a DNR officer a quarter-mile away. The officer fired at the wolf, but missed, and the wolf ran off.
U.S. Department of Agriculture trappers eventually caught the wolf that was destroyed Monday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report