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Teen reportedly attacked by wolf near Deer River

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DEER RIVER, Minn. -- A 16-year-old boy was the victim of an apparent wolf attack at a campground on Lake Winnibigoshish near Deer River, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced Monday. The boy sustained non-life-threatening injuries, according to a DNR news release.

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The boy is from Solway, Minn., said Cheri Zeppelin, DNR Northeast Region information officer in Grand Rapids. The incident occurred early Saturday morning, she said.

The boy, whose name has not been released, was bitten on the head, Zeppelin said.

"He's got puncture wounds on his head and an 11-centimeter (4.3-inch) wound that had to be closed," Zeppelin said. "He's OK."

The incident occurred at the U. S. Forest Service West Winnie Campground, near where the Mississippi River enters Lake Winnibigoshish, she said.

Lake Winnibigoshish is between Bemidji and Grand Rapids, just north of U.S. Highway 2.

The wolf ran into the woods after the boy kicked it, according to a DNR news release.

After receiving local first-aid, the boy was transported to a hospital in Bemidji. The wound required multiple staples to close, but was not life-threatening.

A wolf, an average-sized male weighing about 75 pounds, that matched the description was later trapped and killed in the campground early Monday, the DNR said.

The wolf is being taken to the University of Minnesota veterinary diagnostic lab to be tested for rabies. Also, the lab will collect samples for DNA analyses and complete a thorough medical examination to determine the health of the animal.

Traps will be left in place for one more night to be sure another wolf is not present in the area. The Forest Service has closed the campground until further notice.

Statements from other campers indicated there were other incidents at the U.S. Forest Service campground where an animal bit through tents, one resulting in the puncturing of an air mattress, according to the DNR. Another camper indicated that he witnessed a wolf near his campsite with coloration and markings matching the description of the animal involved in the attack on the boy, the DNR news release stated.

"This is an extremely rare incident and not normal wolf behavior," said Tom Provost, regional manager of the DNR's Enforcement Division. "Because wolf bites or attacks on humans are so rare, they are poorly understood. These rare incidents have usually involved food-habituated wolves and have led to minor injuries, but no fatalities."

Before this incident, a serious injury or fatal attack on a human had never been documented in Minnesota, according to the DNR. There have been two wolf attack fatalities in North America in the last decade, according to the agency. One was in northern Canada and another was in Alaska.

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