Among the arguments often pulled out of thin air by those opposed to hunting wolves is the notion that wolf attacks are unfounded urban legends, as if the possibility of a wolf attacking a human is completely absurd.
Tell that to Noah Graham, a Minnesota teenager whose wounds tell a different story.
According to the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune, Graham, 16, and his girlfriend were resting near his tent early Saturday morning on the U.S. Forest Serviceâ€™s West Winnie Campground at Lake Winnibigoshish when a gray wolf snuck up on the teen from behind.
â€śThe canine approached him from the rear and before he realized it was there, it had bit him in the back of his head,â€ť Tom Provost, DNR regional enforcement supervisor in Grand Rapids, Minn., said in a press release. â€śHis first indication was when he had its jaws clamped down on his head.â€ť
The attack caught Graham completely off-guard, he said.
“There was no sound at all; didnâ€™t hear it,” Graham told reporters. “It was just all of a sudden there.”
Graham’s girlfriend high-tailed it to her Jeep while two other members of the camping party slept through the attack. Luckily, Graham was able to escape from the wolf’s jaws.
â€śI had to reach behind me and jerk my head out of its mouth,â€ť Graham told reporters after being treated for puncture wounds on the left and right side of his face. Graham also received a rabies shot as a precaution. â€śAfter I got up, I was kicking at it and screaming at it, and it wouldnâ€™t leave. But then after a while I got it to run away.â€ť
The campground was evacuated and closed immediately after the incident, and a 75-pound male wolf matching the attacking animal’s description was trapped and killed Monday. Officials said other campers had reported incidents in which a wolf had been sighted near campgrounds; a few even reported an animal biting through tents. DNA testing could confirm whether the trapped wolf was the one that attacked Graham. In the meantime, the campground will remain closed with traps set to be sure another wolf isn’t present, the DNR said.
Provost said the attack seemed to be a freak incident, adding it was the first time he’d heard of a wolf attack causing an injury to a human in Minnesota, though such run-ins with wolves are seemingly becoming more common. Last September, an Idaho elk hunter found himself surrounded by a pack of wolves, though he successfully took one of the predators with the help of his bow and a .22-caliber pistol.
In October, HUNTING online editors received a series of graphic photographs from Wisconsin hunter Ron Hill, whose 1 1/2-year-old hunting dog was brutally devoured by a pack of wolves.
Finally, just last week a pack of wolves herded a flock of sheep into a panicked mass in Idaho, killing 176 sheepâ€”the largest wolf attack on livestock in state history. Only one of the sheep had been partially consumed; less than 10 of the dead sheep had been bitten by the wolves, and most of the animals were either asphyxiated or trampled.
While wolf attacks on humans are admittedly rare, this incident shows such attacks can happen. It’s still unknown why the wolf attacked Graham in the first place. In any case, given the gray wolf’s awesome strength, Graham is lucky to have walked away with just a few puncture woundsâ€”it could have been much worse.
In October 2012, Hill and his hunting group were tracking a bear in Wisconsinâ€”in an area familiar to themâ€”with the use of their hound dogs, when one of the dogs got separated from the group and was brutally killed by a pack of wolves. The dog was a 1 1/2 year old female Treeing Walker and was killed in Douglas County. Read the full story at Petersen's Hunting.
Siddoway Ranch in southeastern Idaho was shocked in August 2013 after 176 sheep were killed by two wolves, according to KTVB in Boise, Idaho. Check out the full story at Petersen's Hunting.
Therein lies the problem. When wolves are left unchecked, they can, and do, decimate ungulate populations to the point where few animals are left. All those folks who say they only kill the sick and weak have never watched a pack of wolves eat a healthy, mature bull caribou alive as I have. They have never seen the trail of death a pack of wolves leaves behind as it kills to teach its pups how to hunt, or just for fun, eating little of the animals whose lives they have just ended.
"Iâ€™ve seen where wolves have killed Dall sheep rams at the top of the mountain in the deep snow of spring, watched them chase mountain goats along the tree line of a Southeast Alaska forest in August, and shred a cow elk in the Yellowstone basin," Robb said. Read the full story at Petersen's Hunting.
Dennis Nitz, a Wisconsin native and one of five people to kill a wolf in 2012 during the stateâ€™s first annual season, said he received death threats within minutes of posting his photos of the wolf to Facebook. Nitz was one of over 1,000 people to receive a permit, while over 20,000 people applied for the right to hunt wolves this year. Read the full story at Petersen's Hunting.
If anything, the alarming dingo problem is a foreshadow of things to come in the U.S. if wolf and coyote numbers arenâ€™t effectively managed. As is the case stateside, Australian animal rights activists paint the dingo in an almost exclusively rosy light, even blaming the death of children in dingo attacks on the parentsâ€™ lack of situational awareness. Read the full story at Petersen's Hunting.
In 2012, the Minnesota Supreme Court rejected an effort by the Center for Biological Diversity and Howling for Wolves to stop the hunt from taking place. Despite their claims that Department of Natural Resources officials didnâ€™t adequately consider public opinion in the matter, Chief Justice Lorie Gildea thought otherwise. Read the full story at Petersen's Hunting.
It seems that Pearce, from Idaho, just doesnâ€™t care. On an archery elk hunt this past weekend near Clayton, Idaho, Pearce spent almost an hour calling in elk, only to find himself surrounded by a pack of wolves. As at least five wolves circled him, one made it within 40 yards. Thatâ€™s when Pearce decided to turn the tables on the pack. Read the full story at Petersen's Hunting.
Noah Graham, 16, found that out personally when a wolf attacked him in Minnesota while he was camping with his girlfriend. Real the full story at Petersen's Hunting.