DNA test confirms identity of wolf that bit teen near Lake Winnibigoshish

By KBJR News 1

Credit: MN DNR

DNA test confirms identity of wolf that bit teen near Lake Winnibigoshish

September 26, 2013 Updated Sep 26, 2013 at 3:54 PM CDT

Grand Rapids, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- DNA tests have confirmed that the gray wolf trapped and killed near Lake Winnibigoshish was the wolf that bit a teenager back in August.

Testing done by forensic scientists at the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at the University of California-Davis showed identical matches between the wolf’s DNA profile and the profile of samples obtained from a comforter used when the teen was transported for treatment.

The DNR also received final results this week of the wolf necropsy conducted by the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. The necropsy report documented a number of abnormal conditions that may have contributed to it approaching and biting a human, which is not normal wolf behavior.

The wolf suffered from severe facial deformity, dental abnormalities and brain damage caused by infection, according to Anibal Armien, the pathologist and veterinarian at the University of Minnesota who performed the necropsy.

Armien went on to say that its is likely the wolf experienced a traumatic injury as a pup and those injuries developed into abnormalities that caused the brain damage.

Dan Stark, the DNR's large carnivore specialist says the wolf's condition also likely explains why it was searching for food around the campground. Stark went on to say that it is surprising that a wolf in this condition survived to this point.

In most cases it is extremely rare for a wolf to be scavenging around an area with frequent human activity and not avoid the presence of people.

“We can’t know with certainty why this wolf approached and bit the teen,” says Michelle Carstensen, wildlife health program supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources . “But the necropsy results support the possibility that its facial deformity, dental abnormalities and brain damage predisposed it to be less wary of people and human activities than what is normally observed in healthy wild wolves and also affected its ability to effectively capture wild prey.”

Th 16 year old bit by the wolf sustained multiple puncture wounds and a laceration to his head, however the injuries were not life-threatening.

The Minnesota Department of Health confirmed that the wolf was not rabid.

The Minnesota DNR says attacks of wild wolves on humans are rare. This was Minnesota’s first documented wild wolf attack on a human that resulted in a significant injury.

Posted to the web by Krista Burns
kburns@kbjr.com