ST. PUL, Minn. (AP) — DNA tests confirm a wolf with severe abnormalities that was trapped and killed at a northern Minnesota campground last month is the same wolf that attacked a 16-year-old there two days earlier, the Department of Natural Resources announced Thursday.
Testing at the University of California-Davis matched the wolf’s DNA to samples from a comforter used when the youth was taken to a hospital for treatment after he was attacked Aug. 24 at a campground on Lake Winnibigoshish, the DNR said in a news release.
It was Minnesota’s first documented wild wolf attack on a human resulting in a significant injury, the DNR said. Noah Graham, of Solway, suffered puncture wounds and a laceration to his scalp when the wolf chomped his head from behind. Earlier tests showed it was not rabid.
The DNR said final necropsy results showed several problems that likely contributed to its unusual behavior.
The wolf, estimated to be 1½ years old, likely experienced a traumatic injury as a pup that developed into a severe facial deformity, dental abnormalities and brain damage caused by infection, said Anibal G. Armien, the University of Minnesota veterinarian who performed the necropsy.
That likely explains why the wolf was scavenging for food around the campground, said Dan Stark, the DNR’s large carnivore specialist.
“It’s surprising that a wolf in this condition survived to this point,” Stark said in the statement.
The wolf’s stomach contained only fish spines and scales. Michelle Carstensen, the DNR’s wildlife health program supervisor, said the wolf likely was surviving in part by hanging around fish cleaning houses in the area because it would have been hard for it to catch prey like healthy wolf.