Wolf linked to attack on teen tests negative for rabies

10:09 AM, Aug 29, 2013   |    comments
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ST. PAUL, Minn. - The wolf linked by DNR investigators to an attack on a northern Minnesota teen has tested negative for rabies.

Wildlife experts believe the gray wolf bit the 16-year-old boy  early Aug. 24 at the U.S. Forest Service West Winnie Campground at Lake Winnibigoshish. The wolf was later trapped by agents from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).  

Noah Graham of Solway was camping with five friends last weekend when he was bitten in the back of his head, a wound which took 17 staples to close.

The confirmation of the negative rabies test was made Wednesday by the Minnesota Department of Health laboratory.

Despite the results, the DNR reminds residents that it is premature to say with 100 percent confidence that the wolf that tested negative for rabies is the wolf that inflicted the bites. That won't be known - or may never be known - until DNA testing is complete.

The victim's shirt, a potential source of wolf saliva DNA, and wolf muscle tissue have been sent to a laboratory at the University of California - Davis for forensic analysis. The analysis expected to take several weeks.

Meanwhile, the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory has conducted an initial examination of the wolf to potentially determine why the animal would attack a human, behavior that is out of the ordinary for a gray wolf. The results of additional tests will take several weeks at which time a final necropsy report will be issued.

The campground was closed after the attack but the U.S. Forest Service decided to reopen for Labor Day weekend.

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