DNA Test Nabs Unlikely Suspect: a Wild Wolf

Before anyone from animal rights starts complaining about the poor wolf, it should be noted that this wolf was a prime suspect in an attack on a young Minnesota man.  The wolf – or DNA tested suspect – in question was found guilty in this case and will probably have to face lethal injection.

This unlikely closed case began with an attack on August 24th, 2013, in a Minnesota campground on a 16 year old boy.  The attack was the first case of a wolf attack on a human being resulting in injury in the history of the state.  The boy, Noah Graham, received several deep punctures and lacerations to the scalp when the unsuspecting camper was jumped by the wolf from behind.  Graham was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was successfully treated and will make a full and complete recovery.

Catching the culprit

Nabbing the guilty party in this brutal attack would seem to be somewhat difficult.  First and foremost the authorities have to locate a lone wolf in an otherwise very desolate and large search area.  Even catching the wolf is not going to prove anything unless they can get it to confess, right? Wrong.  In this case the wolf in question was caught by local game authorities and had also left a clue behind to tie him to the crime in question.

The evidence turned out to be nothing more than a simple bed comforter which was used to cover and keep warm the victim while being transferred to a local hospital.  The comforter contained much more than just the blood of Noah Graham: it contained forensic DNA samples of the wolf’s saliva and own blood left on Graham’s person during the attack.

Scientists at the University of California-Davis were successfully able to compare and get matches on the genetic material left behind on the bed comforter and the samples taken from the captured wolf.  The test conclusively confirmed that the captured wolf was the very same one which had maliciously attacked Noah Graham that day in August.

A reprieve for the wolf?

In this bizarre case the wolf in question would be quite probably better off had he been born a human and not a wild animal.  Genetic scientists at the UC-Davis laboratories were able to autopsy the dead wolf and found irregularities which most likely contributed to his errant and violent behavior.  Scientists confirmed that upon a final revision of the test results of the animal there were indications of severe trauma to the animal most likely in its young and formidable years.  The traumatic injuries the wolf suffered manifested into a severe facial deformity, dental problems- perhaps significant enough to alter the food he could consume and scavenge normally, and brain damage resulting from an infection.

Scientists are fairly confident that these injuries and their subsequent complications caused a serious change in behavior for the wolf.  The wolf was tested for and rabies ruled out as a cause for his violent attack.  While wolves are known to be feisty animals and ardent hunters in the wild, they have very rarely been associated with attacks on human beings.  Across the country in the last 20 years there have been a total of three attacks on humans which can be confirmed by wild wolves.

Sadly the wolf will receive no favor from the court regarding extenuating circumstances which could be responsible for his behavior through no fault of his own.  The wolf was found guilty and euthanized by local game officials (sadly prior to the DNA tests themselves!). To read up a few more bits and pieces of information about DNA tests, click here.