Wolf Conservation photo

Test results confirm a grey wolf that bit 16-year old’s Noah Graham’s head while he was sleeping at a Northern Minnesota campground last August had severe deformities and brain damage, which were likely the reasons for the unusual attack.

An article from the Star Tribune says a necropsy from the University of Minnesota showed the wolf was approximately 1 ½ years old, had a severe facial deformity, dental abnormalities, and brain damage caused by some type of infection. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources specialists said its condition likely made it less wary of humans, and since its stomach contents contained only fish spines and scales, it was likely in the campground searching for food.

A DNA test from the wolf trapped and killed two days after Graham was attacked confirmed it was the same one that 4 a.m. as he was preparing to go to sleep, then clamped its jaws around his head, leaving lacerations and puncture wounds that required 17 staples to close. Dan Stark, a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources carnivore specialist, said other campers reported seeing the wolf acting strange the day before it attacked Graham.

“It bit into a tent. Punctured an air mattress. It was standing on a picnic table–things you wouldn’t expect a wild wolf to do. He was never aggressive, and he never approached anybody. So why did it bite somebody? Whether it actually knew what it was biting into is probably unlikely. It was biting something on the ground, and it happened to bite into somebody’s head,” Stark said.

The attack was Minnesota’s first documented wild wolf attack that resulted in injury.