In what officials are calling the first confirmed wolf attack in Minnesota history, a gray wolf clamped its jaws on 16-year-old Noah Graham’s head while he was camping with his church group at the West Winnie Campground on Lake Winnibigoshish Saturday. The wolf crept up and attacked Graham at about 4 a.m. as he was preparing to go to sleep, leaving lacerations and puncture wounds.
In a report from CBS affiliate WCCO, Noah’s father, Scott Graham, says the attack was silent and sudden. The wolf’s teeth lacerated the back of Graham’s skull, a wound that required 17 staples to close, and made several puncture wounds behind his left ear.
“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,” he said. “And he had to shout at it and kick at it to get it to go away.”
Col. Ken Soring, enforcement director for the state’s Department of Natural Resources, says it’s the first confirmed gray wolf attack on a human in Minnesota’s history. The 75-pound animal was captured by U.S. Department of Agriculture trappers. It was then shot and killed, and is currently being tested for rabies at a University of Minnesota veterinary diagnostic lab. Graham is undergoing a rabies treatment regimen as a precaution.
A preliminary examination of the dead wolf revealed the animal had a deformed jaw, which may have caused it difficulty in pursuing prey, in turn making it more dependent on campground scraps for food.
“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,” Col. Soring said.