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Wolf attacks on humans: an update for
2002–2020
John D. C. Linnell, Ekaterina Kovtun & Ive Rouart
1944

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Norwegian Institute for Nature Research
Wolf attacks on humans: an update for 2002–
2020
John D. C. Linnell
Ekaterina Kovtun
Ive Rouart

NINA Report 1944
2
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www.nina.no
Linnell, J. D. C., Kovtun, E. & Rouart, I. 2021. Wolf attacks on hu-
mans: an update for 2002–2020. NINA Report 1944 Norwegian In-
stitute for Nature Research.
Trondheim, January, 2021
ISSN: 1504-3312
ISBN: 978-82-426-4721-4
COPYRIGHT
© Norwegian Institute for Nature Research
The publication may be freely cited where the source is acknowl-
edged
AVAILABILITY
Open
PUBLICATION TYPE
Digital document (pdf)
QUALITY CONTROLLED BY
John Odden
SIGNATURE OF RESPONSIBLE PERSON
Research director Signe Nybø (sign.)
CLIENT(S)/SUBSCRIBER(S)
World Wide Fund for Nature, International Fund for Animal Wel-
fare, and NABU (Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union) e.V
CLIENT(S) REFERENCE(S)
CLIENTS/SUBSCRIBER CONTACT PERSON(S)
Moritz Klose (WWF), Andreas Dinkelmeyer (IFAW), Marie Neuwald
(NABU)
COVER PICTURE
European wolf, in captivity © John Linnell
KEY WORDS
Wolf
Canis lupus
Large carnivore
Human-wildlife conflict
Attacks on humans
Human safety
NØKKELORD
Ulv
Canis lupus
Konflikt
Angrep på mennesker

 
3
NINA Report 1944
Abstract
Linnell, J. D. C., Kovtun, E. & Rouart, I. 2021. Wolf attacks on humans: an update for 2002–
2020. NINA Report 1944. Norwegian Institute for Nature Research.
The degree to which wolves pose a threat to human safety has been a central part of the public
controversy surrounding wolf recovery in Europe for the last three decades. This report seeks to
update our knowledge for the period 2002 to 2020. We searched the peer-reviewed literature,
technical reports, online news media sources and contacted regional experts to gather as much
information as possible. Our coverage for Europe and North America is likely to be high, but for
the rest of Eurasia we have at best found a good sample of events, especially for the period after
2015. We identified relatively reliable cases involving 489 human victims. Of these 67 were vic-
tims of predatory attacks (9 fatal), 380 were victims of rabid attacks (14 fatal), and 42 were victims
of provoked / defensive attacks (3 fatal). Attacks were found in Canada, USA, Croatia, Poland,
Italy, Iran, Iraq, Israel, India, Kirgizstan, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Russia,
Mongolia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan and Saudi Arabia. In addition, we found an almost
equal number of cases that we could not include because of poor documentation as well as
cases that we could clearly reject based on evidence, for example where the attack was actually
caused by dogs.
The distribution of attacks by rabid wolves closely follows the distribution of rabies cases in hu-
mans and other wildlife species. As such this represents a very low risk for Europe due to the
near eradication of rabies. The predatory attacks had move diverse etiology. Some clusters,
such as those from western Iran, appeared to be linked to landscapes with low wild prey density,
high density of humans living in poor socio-economic conditions, and where livestock were the
main prey of wolves. A single case appeared to be due to an injured wolf in poor health. A range
of other cases though were associated with situations where wolves had been demonstrating
fearless behaviour and had been utilising anthropogenic food sources over time before the at-
tacks. Such cases represent a close parallel to the risk factors that are known from other large
canids like coyotes in North America and dingoes in Australia. Finally, a single and well-docu-
mented fatal attack from Alaska involved a group of healthy wolves in an area with no previous
history of fearless wolves or feeding.
There is an urgent need to learn more about the behaviour of “bold” or “fearless” wolves and
understand at what point a harmless degree of habituation to humans (which is necessary to live
in human-dominated landscapes) can lead to potentially dangerous behaviour. There is also a
need to develop clear management procedures to both prevent dangerous situations from de-
veloping (i.e. feeding) and to react to such situations when they appear. Finally, there is a need
for increased communication and awareness raising in this area, both to the public and to med-
ical, veterinary and wildlife management institutions. As our understanding of wolf attacks in-
creases there appears to be a high degree of convergence with the much better understood risks
associated with bears, which allows for a more consistent multi-species communication strategy.
While being aware of the potential risks associated with wolves it is also crucial to place this into
context. In Europe and North America we only found evidence for 12 attacks (with 14 victims),
of which 2 (both in North America) were fatal, across a period of 18 years. Considering that there
are close to 60.000 wolves in North America and 15.000 in Europe, all sharing space with hun-
dreds of millions of people it is apparent that the risks associated with a wolf attack are above
zero, but far too low to calculate.

NINA Report 1944
4
John
D. C. Linnell, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, PO Box 5685 Torgarden, 7485
Trondheim, Norway
john.linnell@nina.no
Ekaterina
Kovtun, Unit of Molecular Zoology, Technical University of Munich, Hans-Carl-von-
Carlowitz-Platz 2, 85354 Freising, Germany
ekaterina.kovtun@tum.de
Ive
Rouart,
Department of Biology, Animal Ecology Group, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Neth-
erlands
ive.rouart@gmail.com

 
5
NINA Report 1944
Sammendrag
Linnell, J. D. C., Kovtun, E. & Rouart, I. 2021. Wolf attacks on humans: an update for 2002–
2020. NINA Report 1944. Norwegian Institute for Nature Research.
I hvor stor grad ulver utgjør en risiko for mennesker har vært en sentral del av kontroversen rundt
tilbakekomsten av ulv i Europa de siste tre tiårene. Denne rapporten forsøker å oppdatere kunn-
skapsnivået for dette temaet i perioden 2002-2020. Vi søkte etter ulveangrep på mennesker i
vitenskapelig litteratur, nyhetssaker på nett og kontaktet regionale eksperter for å samle så mye
informasjon som mulig. Dekningen vår for Europa og Nord-Amerika er trolig høy, men for resten
av Eurasia har vi i det beste funnet et godt utvalg av tilfeller, særlig for perioden etter 2015. Vi
identifiserte 489 offer fra saker som vi anså som relativt troverdige. Av disse var 67 offer for
predatorangrep (ni døde), 380 var utsatt for rabiesangrep (14 døde) og 42 var offer for provos-
erte/forsvarsangrep (3 døde). Ulveangrep på mennesker ble funnet i Canada, USA, Kroatia, Po-
len, Italia, Iran, Irak, Israel, India, Kirgisistan, Tyrkia, Kasakhstan, Ukraina, Hviterussland, Mol-
dova, Russland, Mongolia, Armenia, Aserbajdsjan, Tadsjikistan og Saudi-Arabia. I tillegg fant vi
mange saker som vi ikke kunne inkludere på grunn av dårlig dokumentasjon eller saker som vi
kunne avises basert på beviser, for eksempel når det var hunder som faktisk stod bak angrepet.
Fordelingen av angrep fra rabiesulver følger fordelingen av rabiestilfeller hos mennesker og dyr.
Derfor representerer disse angrepene en veldig lav risiko i Europa siden rabies nærmest er ut-
ryddet her. Predatorangrepene hadde en mer variert etiologi. Noen angrep, slik som vest i Iran,
ser ut til å være knyttet til områder med lav tetthet av ville byttedyr, høy tetthet av mennesker
som lever under dårlige sosioøkonomiske forhold og hvor husdyr er de viktigste byttedyrene for
ulv. Et enkelt tilfelle var antagelig fra en skadet ulv i dårlig kondisjon. En rekke andre tilfeller var
knyttet til situasjoner der ulvene hadde vist fryktløs adferd ovenfor mennesker og hadde utnyttet
menneskelig matkilder, for eksempel søppelfyllinger, over tid før angrepet skjedde. Disse tilfel-
lene er en nær parallelle til risikofaktorene som er kjent fra andre store hundedyr, som prærieul-
ver i Nord-Amerika og dingoer i Australia. Vi fant ett enkelttilfelle av et dødelig ulveangrep som
kom fra en frisk ulveflokk i Alaska, og som ikke hadde vist fryktløs adferd ovenfor mennesker
tidligere. Dette tilfellet var godt dokumentert.
Det er et stort behov for å lære mer om adferden til «fryktløse» ulver («bold wolves») og forstå
når en harmløs grad av tilvenning til mennesker (som er nødvendig for å leve i menneskedomi-
nerte landskap) kan føre til potensielt farlig adferd. Det er også et behov for å utvikle tydelige
forvaltningsprosedyrer for å forhindre at farlige situasjoner utvikler seg (f. eks fôring) og for å
reagere når de oppstår. Til slutt er det et behov for å øke kommunikasjonen og bevisstheten
rundt dette temaet, både for offentligheten og for medisin-, veterinær- og naturforvaltningsinsti-
tusjoner. I det vår forståelse om ulveangrep øker, ser det ut som at det kan være stor likhet med
bjørneangrep. Bjørneangrepe er mye bedre forstått enn risikoen assosiert med ulv. Det kan
derfor være mulig å oppnå en mer konsistent kommunikasjons- og tiltaksstrategi som er rettet
mot flere rovdyrarter samtidig. I forbindelse med å være oppmerksom på risikoen assosiert med
ulveangrep er det også viktig å sette dette i kontekst. I Europa og Nord-Amerika fant vi bare
bevis for 12 ulveangrep (med 14 ofrer) over en 18 års periode, hvor to (begge i Nord-Amerika)
endte med dødelig utfall. Når vi tar hensyn til at det er rundt 60 000 ulver i Nord-Amerika og
17 000 i Europa, hvor alle deler landskapet med flere hundre millioner mennesker er det opplagt
at sannsynligheten for et ulveangrep er over null, men altfor liten til å bli beregnet.

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6
John D. C. Linnell, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, PO Box 5685 Torgarden, 7485
Trondheim, Norway
john.linnell@nina.no
Ekaterina Kovtun, Unit of Molecular Zoology, Technical University of Munich, Hans-Carl-von-
Carlowitz-Platz 2, 85354 Freising, Germany
ekaterina.kovtun@tum.de
Ive Rouart,
Department of Biology, Animal Ecology Group, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Neth-
erlands
ive.rouart@gmail.com

 
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7
Contents
Abstract .......................................................................................................................................3
Sammendrag ...............................................................................................................................5
Contents ......................................................................................................................................7
Foreword .....................................................................................................................................8
1 Introduction ............................................................................................................................9
2 Methods ................................................................................................................................11
3 Results — New historical knowledge about wolf attacks ............................................... 13
4 Results — Overview of new cases of wolf attacks .......................................................... 14
4.1 North America ................................................................................................................14
4.2 Europe ...........................................................................................................................16
4.3 Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova ......................................................................... 17
4.4 Caucasus and Middle East ............................................................................................ 17
4.5 South Asia......................................................................................................................19
4.6 Central Asia ...................................................................................................................19
4.7 Captive wolves, fake news, misrepresentation and mistaken identities ....................... 19
5 Results — New overviews of knowledge on other species ............................................ 22
5.1 Dingo attacks .................................................................................................................22
5.2 Coyote attacks ...............................................................................................................23
5.3 Red foxes .......................................................................................................................24
6 Discussion ............................................................................................................................25
6.1 Attacks by rabid wolves — summary of new knowledge .............................................. 25
6.2 Predatory attacks — summary of new knowledge ........................................................ 27
6.3 What do we know about habituation, boldness and aggression in carnivores? ........... 28
6.4 Managing risk in human-dominated landscapes ........................................................... 29
6.4.1 Remove food sources......................................................................................... 30
6.4.2 Hazing.................................................................................................................30
6.4.3 Selective animal removal.................................................................................... 31
6.4.4 Wolf hunting. ....................................................................................................... 31
6.4.5 Management protocols....................................................................................... 31
6.4.6 Communication. .................................................................................................. 33
6.4.7 Forensic and documentation procedures........................................................... 34
6.4.8 Knowledge needs............................................................................................... 34
7 References ...........................................................................................................................35
8 Appendix ..............................................................................................................................45

 
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Foreword
While the underlying premise of large carnivore management in Europe may well always be a
subject of controversy and disagreement because of the diversity of values and interests that
exist in our societies it is clearly an advantage if stakeholders can agree on the underlying sci-
entific basis concerning the ecology and behaviour of the species. One of the topics that is often
hotly debated concerns the potential risks that wolves pose for human safety. This review was
funded by the World Wide Fund for Nature, the International Fund for Animal Welfare and NABU
(Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union) e.V. in order to improve the scientific understand-
ing of the risks that wolves pose for human safety. It is intended to provide an update to a previ-
ous report that was released in 2002, and covers the period up to 2020.
Many people have provided information and commented on the draft. Thanks to the following:
Luigi Boitani, Juan Carlos Blanco, Yorgos Mertzanis, Yorgos Illiopoulos, Ilka Reinhardt, Valeria
Salvatori, Elena Tsingarska, Aleksander Trajce, Aleksandra Majic, Bridget Borg, Doug Smith,
Haim Berger, Amos Bouskila, Peep Mannil, Francisco Alvares, Ilpo Kojola, Djuro Huber, Sabina
Nowak, Bardh Sanaja, Dime Melovski and Cam Schley.
John Linnell
January 2021

 
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1 Introduction
Since the low point in the mid-20
th
century Europe’s wolf populations have dramatically expanded
to reoccupy large parts of the continent (Boitani & Linnell 2015, Chapron et al. 2014). This in-
cludes returning to areas from which they were totally exterminated like Finland, Norway and
Sweden in the north, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands in the west, and across the entire
Alpine arc of northern Italy, France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia in the centre of the conti-
nent. They have also expanded their ranges in other countries like Spain, Portugal, and penin-
sular Italy where they had been reduced to small fragments. There are currently (i.e. 2016) an
estimated 17.000 wolves in Europe, not counting Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Viewed from the
lens of wildlife conservation this represents one of the great success stories of the last 50 years.
However, the return of the wolf has not been welcomed by everybody. Their return has also been
associated with the revival of a wide range of ancient conflicts and the appearance of others that
are unique to our time. The tendency of wolves to depredate on livestock — like sheep, goats,
cattle, horses, semi-domestic reindeer and domestic dogs is well documented elsewhere (Butler
et al. 2014; Linnell & Cretois 2018). In addition to these very tangible impacts are a range of less
tangible, but very important, social conflicts (Bisi et al. 2007, Moore 1994, Redpath et al. 2013,
Skogen et al. 2017) that, if not adequately addressed, typically express themselves as a clash
of attitudes, values, or knowledge between different stakeholders or sectors of the public.
One of the dominant discussions in the media, social media, and public debate concerns the
potential danger that wolves represent for human safety. This translates into widespread expres-
sions of unease, limitation of freedom, and outright fear. In the early decades of wolf conservation
that started in the 1960’s and 1970’s there was a widespread belief among wolf conservationists,
especially North Americans, that wolves were not potentially dangerous and had never attacked
people. This overtly optimistic view did not agree with the historic or present day reality from
other parts of the world, but barriers of language and discipline had hindered the development
of a unified consensus on the issue. The end of the 20
th
century and the first years of the 21
st
century saw a surge of scholarship on this topic, with biologists, wildlife managers, historians,
mythologists, veterinarians, doctors, and forensic examiners all contributing case reports, results
from research projects, and insights that began to paint a much more complex and more repre-
sentative global picture of the relationship between wolves and humans. In 2002, Linnell et al.
(2002) produced a report on the state of knowledge concerning wolf attacks on humans that
summarised as much of the available information as this team of 18 authors could gather from
across the globe. McNay (2002a,b) independently summarised North American cases. The ma-
jor results of these studies are summarised in Box 1.
In the subsequent 18 years the public discourse around the danger from wolves has ebbed and
flowed, but has never gone away (Linnell & Alleau 2015). Europeans have acquired almost two
decades more experience of sharing their continent with thousands of wolves. The global level
of professional and scientific knowledge about the risks of sharing space with wolves and other
large predatory species has developed considerably. It was therefore felt that it was timely for
an update to see if the main conclusions from 2002 still stand today. This report provides that
update.

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Box 1: Summary of main findings from the 2002 reports.
At the time the Linnell et al. (2002) report was released there was a widespread claim among
wolf advocates that wolves were not responsible for any attacks on people. This was in part
based on a simplification of a statement in Mech (1970) which added many conditions to the
statement, most important of which was that it concerned “healthy wolves”, “in North America”
and “in the 20th century”. The 2002 report cast a far wider net across Europe and Asia and
incorporated events from the 30 years after Mech’s classic work. This included both documented
recent events and the results of historical scholarship. In parallel, an Alaskan researcher was
compiling a review of wolf attacks on people from North America (McNay 2002a). Some of the
information that was quoted from unpublished sources or technical reports in the Linnell et al.
(2002) report has subsequently found its way into the peer reviewed literature (e.g. Linnell et al.
2003, Linnell & Alleau 2015, McNay 2002b, McNay & Mooney 2005) making them more acces-
sible to a wider audience.
The result of these two reports portrayed a slightly different picture of the relationship between
wolves and humans than the claim in Mech (1970). Historically, from Europe and Russia, there
was overwhelming evidence of many cases of wolves attacking people. In addition, there was
considerable contemporary data concerning wolves attacking, and killing people from Europe,
Asia and North America. For example, in the period from 1950 to 2002 for Europe (excluding
Russia) and North America (where data is more complete) we found reports of 37 victims of
attacks by rabid wolves (of which 4 were fatal), and 31 predatory / defensive attacks (of which 4
were fatal). Data from Russia and Asia was too fragmentary to summarise easily, but we found
reports of >1300 victims of attacks by rabid wolves and >300 victims of predatory attacks.
Based on an analysis of these cases Linnell et al. (2002) recognised three categories of attacks.
Firstly, a very large proportion of attacks appeared to be due to wolves with rabies. Historical
descriptions from historical Europe and medical / veterinary descriptions from present day Eur-
asia portrayed a very similar picture of dramatic nature of a rabid wolf attacking people and
livestock. Secondly, a small number of cases were categorised as investigative / defensive,
mainly consisting of cases where wolves bit people in self-defence or where apparently naïve
wolves bit people as a way of “testing” their suitability as prey. Finally, there were many cases
that could only be described as predatory, where humans, mainly children, where clearly killed
by wolves. These accounts were spread across historical Europe, and contemporary south Asia,
and to a large extent tended to fall into discrete clusters in space and time. Most of them tended
to be associated with rather specific social-ecological conditions, including areas with almost no
wild prey and poor, vulnerable, human communities. In addition to these categories of cases
involving wild wolves, there are reports of attacks by captive wolves.
The publications of these two reports in 2002 (Linnell et al. 2002, McNay 2002a) created a
change in our understanding of the potential dangers that wolves represent. Although the reports
contained thousands of cases of attacks, it must be born in mind that they were distributed across
almost 400 years of history and the entire range of wolves in North America, Asia and Europe.
In fact, this new understanding simply brought wolves into the same frames that we use to con-
sider the potential risks posed by all large predators, like polar, black, brown and sloth bears,
lions, tigers, leopards and cougars, and sharks and crocodiles.

 
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2 Methods
A very specific topic like wolf attacks on people is neither a conventional field of scientific inves-
tigation nor an area where national or international bodies routinely collate data. Therefore, any
attempt to generate an overview of the topic requires a lot of detective work, gathering pieces of
information from many different sources. Because of the political nature of the topic there is also
a great deal of mis-reporting and deliberate fake news such that each report needs to be evalu-
ated and subject to a credibility check.
We started our search for peer-reviewed literature in the scientific databases (Web of Science)
using a range of relevant keywords, placing special attention to include a diversity of disciplinary
sources including medicine, veterinary science, forensics, history, anthropology, wildlife man-
agement, conservation biology and ecology. This was complimented with searches of Google
Scholar. We then used snowball sampling and explored the reference sections of papers and
reports that we found. We then searched through Google and Google Scholar for technical re-
ports and other “gray” technical literature. As well as searching for data on wolf attacks we also
included coyotes and dingoes because of the comparative insights that are possible for these
species. This search of the scientific and technical literature was mainly done using English
search terms.
We then conducted a systematic search of online media reports and a review of wolf attack
cases listed on the Wikipedia site
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wolf_attacks
)
dedicated
to maintaining a list of claimed wolf attacks. This search included multiple languages, facilitated
by Google Translate. For Russian language cases we used a native Russian speaker. For each
case found, efforts were made to verify the accuracy of the case by conducting targeted searches
for further media coverage, supporting technical reports and / or by contacting the relevant au-
thorities. This focused heavily on the countries that have Russian language media, including
Belarus, Ukraine, Russia and Central Asian and Caucasus countries. Turkey and Iran were also
carefully screened. These countries were focused on because of their geographic proximity to
Europe, and the fact that there is a lot of European media focus on claimed events from the
region. This survey produced 75 cases that we could accept as being “verified” wolf attacks. Of
these 44 were attributed to rabid wolves, 15 were regarded as being predatory, 7 were classified
as defensive / provoked, and 9 were not possible to clarify although the evidence strongly points
to a wolf attack. An additional 16 cases were rejected because either nobody was injured in the
attack or investigations revealed that the attack was not due to a wolf. For a final 51 cases it was
not possible to determine if an attack had happened or not from the descriptions available. This
media search was most intensive for the period 2015 to 2018 (limited due to resources). A full
list of the media sources and underlying documentation is available from the first author on re-
quest.
Finally, we consulted with a wide contact network of experts from Europe, Asia and North Amer-
ica to follow up leads on specific incidences and check for any missed cases.
The resources available did not permit a complete coverage of all cases, all areas and of the
entire period from 2002 to 2020. For Europe and North America we are confident that we have
picked up almost all serious cases and most minor incidents, however, for the rest of Eurasia /
Asia it is clear that we have only accessed a sample of what is reported, and it is clear that many
cases do not ever make it into the online accessible media. However, we believe that we have
sampled enough to build up a good picture of the overall situation. Rather than simply listing
cases, this update mainly seeks to further our understanding of the underlying magnitude of the
problem, the patterns, the various risk factors, and the potential need for management re-
sponses. Some key examples are given in the text and in tables, with more information available
in appendices.

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In addition, we conducted a targeted review of the scientific literature that focuses on the drivers
of “bold” behaviour in mammalian carnivores because of its importance in a lot of the current
media / public debates about wolves.

 
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3 Results — New historical knowledge about wolf
attacks
At the time of the 2002 report historians were just beginning to investigate archival sources in
Europe and Russia to look for insights into historical wolf-human relationships. Some of these
investigations revealed considerable numbers of reports of wolves, both rabid and non-rabid,
attacking people (e.g. Cagnolaro et al. 1992, Comincini et al. 1996, de Beaufort 1988).
Since 2002, there has been a dramatic increase in this form of historical scholarship conducted
by both professional and amateur historians. Furthermore, our literature search has found a
small number of sources that were overlooked in the 2002 report. Combined, there is now a
wealth of new historical evidence from countries as diverse as France (Alleau 2011, Moriceau
2007, 2014, Sobrado 2008), Italy, Portugal (Flower 1971, Petrucci-Fonseca 1990), Norway (Fu-
ruseth 2005), Sweden (Linnell et al. 2003), Finland (Lappalainen 2005), Russia (including the
present day Baltic States and Belarus; Graves 2007, Hindrikson et al. 2017, Rootsi 2003), the
United Kingdom (Harting 1994), and even the Netherlands (Geraerdts 1981). Some of this infor-
mation has even been published in English, making it more accessible to a wider audience.
Moriceau (2014) and Alleau & Linnell (2015) provide accessible discussions of the process by
which historians process archival information to assess the reliability of sources. In general, the
sources quoted above represent serious historical scholarship, and while it is always possible to
question the veracity of each individual episode the sheer volume and richness of the record
indicates that wolf attacks have repeatedly occurred throughout the last 400 years in Europe.
The new evidence supports the existence of both rabid and predatory attacks throughout the
period covered and reinforces the understanding of associated factors that were identified in
Linnell et al. (2002).

 
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4 Results — Overview of new cases of wolf attacks
4.1 North America
There have been two relatively well documented fatal predatory attacks in North America since
2002. In addition to these cases where people were killed, there have been multiple locations
where people have been injured by wolves.
Points North Landing, Saskatchewan, Canada 2005.
The first involved the death of an adult
male (22 years old), Kenton Carnegie, on November 8
th
, 2005, near Points North Landing in
northern Saskatchewan, Canada. Carnegie was working at a remote mining camp, went for a
walk in the evening and didn’t return. His partly consumed body was found later that evening.
While there was no doubt that he was killed by a predator, there was some confusion about if it
was due to a black bear, or wolves. Initial reports implicated a black bear (despite the absence
of any bear tracks at the scene), but later review of the material favoured the interpretation of
wolves as the culprits (McNay 2007) which was reinforced by the presence of multiple wolf tracks
at the site. The coroner’s verdict in 2007 concluded that death from wolf attack was the most
likely cause of death. The mining camp had an open garbage dump that was frequented by
wolves which showed no fear of humans, and there were multiple reports of close encounters
with these wolves in the period leading up to the attack.
Media report two other incidents in similar settings; remote mining camps in northern Saskatch-
ewan with open landfill garbage disposal sites. One case from December 31
st
, 2004, described
an attack on an adult male, Fred Desjarlais, near Key Lake and the other from August 2016
describes an attack on an adult male, Andrew Morgan, near Camerco’s Cigar Lake mining site.
Both were attacked by wolves, in cases where there was no provocation. In both cases, other
workers intervened to rescue the victims who survived.
Chignik Lake, Alaska 2010.
The second high profile case involved the death of an adult female
(32 years old), Candice Berner, on March 8
th
, 2010, near Chignik Lake in southwestern Alaska,
USA (Butler et al. 2011). Berner was a teacher in the local community and went for a jog in the
evening after work. Her body was found less than an hour later by local residents who observed
blood stains in the snow along the road she was jogging along. The attack was carefully investi-
gated using robust forensic approaches and eight wolves were killed in the surrounding area in
subsequent weeks. The combination of the autopsy results, analysis of tracks in the snow around
the kill site, and DNA matching between saliva on the body and one of the shot wolves allowed
a clear conclusion that multiple wolves had been involved in the attack. They had apparently
encountered her face to face as they were travelling in converging directions along the road. The
attack was sudden and persistent. Wolves dragged the body after killing it, even returning to the
body to drag it further followings its initial discovery. Although two of the wolves killed were ema-
ciated, the other six were in good condition, including the adult female with the clearest DNA
match. The wolves were not suffering from rabies. There had been no sightings of wolves show-
ing unusual behaviour in the area prior to the attack, and there were no food attractants. Overall,
this case represents one of the best documented cases of a predatory attack by wolves.
Lake Winnibigoshish, Minnesota, USA 2013
. A 16-year-old boy was bitten by a wolf on 24
th
August 2013 at a campground near lake Winnibigoshish in north central Minnesota. The boy was
lying on the ground outside preparing to sleep when a wolf bite him on the head. He managed
to chase away the wolf and get help. The wound required staples, but was not life-threatening.
A wolf was trapped at the campground two days later. DNA analysis confirmed it was the same
individual. An autopsy revealed that the wolf did not have rabies, but that it had major deformity
to its jaws and brain, probably caused by a traumatic injury which had healed. The injuries were
likely to have greatly affected its ability to hunt wild prey. There had been reports of the same
wolf scavenging food and entering tents at the campground in the days before the attack
(Schwabenlander et al. 2016).

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Port Edward, British Columbia, Canada 2020
. On May 27
th
, 2020, a man in his 70’s was at-
tacked by a wolf at the entrance to his house after walking home from a party at a neighbour’s
house. The house was on a suburban street on the edge of the forest, and the man was under
the influence of alcohol. The wolf, which apparently had been lying in bushes near the house,
knocked him over and grabbed his leg, removing significant muscle mass. Neighbours re-
sponded to his screams and managed to chase the wolf off. However, the wolf remained nearby,
circling the responders as they administered first aid, and even returned to the area after the
victim had been taken away. The victim was flown to hospital and was checked out after approx-
imately 3 weeks of treatment. The attack was clearly a predatory attack. In the subsequent days
Conservation Officers investigated the circumstances and it became apparent that there had
been many sightings and incidents involving severely habituated wolves in the Port Edward /
Prince Rupert area in the preceding months. Several wolves had been frequenting the towns’
landfill garbage disposal site (c. 4 km away) where staff had claimed that the wolves fed on food
even during daytime and showed no fear of humans or of vehicles. Although the landfill site was
fenced with bear-proof electric fencing, the wolves were able to crawl under the lower wires.
Wolves had also been involved in attacks on dogs, both on and off the leash, and were also
apparently attracted to a significant population of stray / feral domestic cats in the Port Edward
neighbourhood. Workers on the nearby grain depot reported sightings of wolves walking across
the railway bridge between the islands. In response, a total of six wolves were killed, 1 nearby,
and 5 on the landfill site. A DNA match identified one of these as the one responsible for the
attack. It was an adult male, large and in good condition, and tested negative for rabies.
(Sources: media reports, interview with Inspector Cam Schley, BC Conservation Officer Service,
and technical reports obtained from BC Government).
Ramparts Creek Campground, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada.
On August 9
th
, 2019,
a wolf tried to force entry into a tent on a campground at night with a family sleeping inside. While
the father of the family tried to scare the wolf away, it bit him multiple times on the hands and
arms, dragging him from the tent. Neighbouring campers assisted and by kicking the wolf and
throwing stones at it were able to get the family to safety, although the wolf remained nearby,
following them as they retreated to a car. Later that day a wolf was shot 1 km nearby and DNA
tests confirmed it was the wolf responsible for the attack. Reports described the wolf as being
old and in poor condition. Because of the presence of grizzly and black bears in the area there
were no food attractants in the tent (Sources: Media). Media also report that the national park
authorities had issued “aggressive wolf warnings” in 2016 following a pack approaching a ski-
slope worker who was on a snowmobile.
Anderson Island, British Columbia, Canada 2007.
A 31-year-old male kayaker was attacked
and bitten by a wolf while he was camping on a beach. According to reports, the man managed
to stab the wolf until it gave up. The injured animal was later found and shot, and tested negative
for rabies but was reported as being in poor body condition.
Pacific Rim National Park and Reserve and surroundings, Vancouver Island, Canada
1999-2003
. A single attack by a wolf on a camper on Vargas Island in 2000 was listed in the
2002 reports. However, Windle (2003) provides a summary of events in the same area over a
longer period. From 1999 to 2003 he summarises 51 close interactions between wolves and
people and / or their dogs. The cases range from wolves entering tents, playing with or stealing
campsite equipment, growling at people, approaching or following people, taking food handouts,
approaching dogs, and even killing dogs. Several of the closest interactions were documented
on Vargas Island in the months before the July 2000 attack, which remains the only episode
where a person was hurt. Media searches reveal that the situation with habituated wolves dis-
playing bold behaviour has continued, with dogs being attacked, even when on a lead (Bower et
al. 2017, MacKinnon 2017). Research has been conducted to study how visitors react to the risk
from wolves and the need for restrictions on their behaviour (Bower et al. 2017, Smith 2006).

 
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Yellowstone National Park, USA
. After many decades of absence wolves were reintroduced
into Yellowstone National Park in 1995 and 1996. Wild Canadian wolves were used as the
source, and animals were only exposed to minimal human contact before release. Since their
release the population has rapidly expanded, and wolves have been surprisingly visible to tour-
ists from the park’s road network. With over 4 million visitors a year the wolves of Yellowstone
must be among the wolf populations in the world with the highest exposure to humans. Most
wolves display a high degree of tolerance to humans, especially those on the road, but most do
not approach people, and will keep a distance if people approach. Since reintroduction a total of
55 wolves have displayed behaviours that park authorities refer to as “habituated” (Anon 2003),
implying that they approach people or do not move away when approached. Of these, 17 only
displayed the behaviour on a single occasion. 38 others were subject to hazing, or aversive
conditioning, actions that ranged from loud noises to rubber bullets and cracker shells. In almost
all cases this hazing changed the behaviour of wolves such that problems ended. For two wolves
however the park had to intervene and shoot them. Both appeared to have become food habit-
uated, associating humans with food, with one wolf ripping open some hikers’ backpack to ac-
cess food and another chasing a bicycle. Most of the wolves which needed hazing were year-
lings, a life cycle stage when individuals are most prone to learning new habits. Despite the large
wolf population and the huge numbers of visitors there have been no attacks on people (Smith
et al. 2020).
Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska, USA.
Although located in Alaska, Denali receives
over 600.000 visitor days per year, mainly during summer. Road access is generally very limited
and mainly closed to private vehicles, such that most visitors spend time in the back-country.
During the period 2000–2007 over 250 events were logged where wolves displayed behaviour
that was viewed as being habituated or bold. In most cases this consisted of curious approaches
or failure to run away, although there were cases of damage to camping equipment in 7 of the 8
years. None of these episodes involved injury to people, although people had to aggressively
frighten the wolves away on multiple occasions. Most events were associated with a single pack
that tended to den close to the park’s only road and near two campsites. The park responded by
hazing wolves and by closing campsites for several years, and by developing a plan of action
(Anon 2007). No further events have been reported in recent years (Bridget Borg, pers. comm.).
4.2 Europe
Poland
. In June 2018 three people were bitten by a wolf in the town of Wetlina in southeast
Poland, an adult on June 12
th
and two children, aged 8 and 10 on June 26
th
. A wolf was shot
after the second attacks. Genetics indicated it was a pure wolf, and it tested negative for rabies.
A wolf had been seen frequenting the village and images posted on social media in the preceding
days showed a wolf that was not afraid of people, tolerating their close approach.
In August 2018 a wolf was reported having bitten a person in the Notecka Forest in western
Poland during a barbeque party. Apparently, the wolf had been visiting the village since March
2018 and was being fed frequently by villagers. Episodes of attacks on dogs were reported. The
attack occurred at a site where the wolf was accustomed to being fed. A wolf was subsequently
shot, which was found to be in good body condition and did not have rabies.
Croatia
. On 22
nd
March 2009 a 67-year-old man was attacked by a wolf in his backyard in north-
east Croatia. He suffered major damage to his hands, arms, leg and face. The victim received
post-exposure treatment and reconstructive surgery and survived. The wolf was shot the same
day while attacking a police officer, and laboratory analysis confirmed the presence of rabies
(Lojkic et al. 2010).
North Macedonia
. On 29
th
January 2016 a 58-year-old man encountered a wolf that had got
into his sheep barn. When the man entered the barn, he tried to remove the wolf, apparently by
grabbing its tail, which triggered an attack with the wolf biting his arms and face. With the help

 
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17
of his wife he managed to kill the wolf with an axe. He was taken to hospital and recovered. It
was apparently not rabid (Media and Dime Melovski, pers. comm.).
Kosovo
. In July 2019 media in Kosovo reported a number of stories about wolf attacks in the
Hani i Elezit region of southern Kosovo. According to the media one attack on a five-year-old
child resulted in bite injuries that required hospital treatment. A second event a few weeks later
in the same region was focused on two children who had to fight off the wolf, and apparently
escaped unharmed. Media also reported that a wolf was observed in the region on several oc-
casions and that livestock had been attacked. No verification was possible.
Italy.
In June 2020 a bold wolf was repeatedly seen near the city of Otranto in the Apulia region
of southern Italy over many days, and tourists were reported as having fed the wolf. Social media
reported videos of people approaching it, and it assuming a playful behaviour. The wolf was
reported to having attempted to bite a 6-year-old girl and wounded a jogger. A team from Majella
National Park and the Forestry Corps were asked to intervene for removing the animal. It was
caught on the second attempt. A collar mark in the fur around its neck provided evidence that it
had been held in captivity, explaining its bold behaviour. Genetical analysis indicated that it was
a wolf, but with some signs of introgression with dogs from at least 3 generations previously. It
is now kept in captivity in a rescue centre (Source: press release from the Italian National Institute
for Environmental Protection and Research).
4.3 Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova
Our media survey revealed 16 cases of attacks (38 victims) by rabid wolves from this region in
the period 2015–2018 (
Table A1
). These reports were particularly well documented, with de-
tailed media accounts and official documents / press releases produced by health and agricul-
tural authorities imposing rabies quarantine rulings on the districts. Rabies is common in Russia,
including in wolves (Sidorov et al. 2010). Most wolves were also formally tested for rabies. In
addition, Shkvyria et al. (2018) report an additional 14 attacks by wolves on 48 people during the
period 2002–2015 in Ukraine. Rabies was confirmed in 8 of these cases and suspect in the
others. All victims survived. In 2009, Russian media carried a story about a fatal predatory attack
on a child who was playing in the forest. While the media reports appear consistent and credible,
we were not able to verify the event with external sources as it fell outside the period of our most
intensive follow-up.
4.4 Caucasus and Middle East
Hamedan province, western Iran
. In a set of papers Behdarvand (Behdarvand et al. 2014,
Behdarvand & Kaboli 2015) describes a series of 53 wolf attacks on people in the period 2001
to 2012. The data is based on face-to-face interviews with survivors or witnesses of attacks that
led to compensation claims in official reports. Most attacks (n=33) were directed at children. A
total of 5 attacks resulted in the death of victims, all were children aged from 3 to 6 years old.
The authors characterised 68% of the attacks as predatory, with the rest being described as pet-
related, investigative and defensive. Although rabies is widespread in the west of Iran, including
among wolves (Gholami et al. 2014, 2017), it was excluded from this dataset of attacks. The
landscape is very agricultural, with only small areas of natural vegetation, and a high human
density (88 per km
2
). Wild ungulate prey are essentially absent from the landscape. Subsequent
studies (Mohammadi et al. 2019) have shown that wolves in the landscape subsist on a diet of
anthropogenic food. Livestock being the most important (both scavenged and depredated), but
also with frequent consumption of garbage and poultry from farm dump-sites. Overall, these
feeding habits will constantly bring wolves into the immediate vicinity of people in the rural land-
scape. Further episodes of attacks on children (5 non-fatal, 1 fatal) were reported from the same
province in the media in 2015 and 2016 (see
Table A1
).

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18
Zanjan and Kermanshah provinces, western Iran
. Media reports provide detailed accounts of
14 people injured in attacks in the neighbouring province of Zanjan during the period April 2016
to January 2018. Two episodes involved rabid wolves in which 3 and 7 people were injured,
respectively. Two attacks on children appeared to have been predatory in nature, while two at-
tacks on adult men have so few details that it is impossible to determine the circumstances (
Ta-
ble A1
). There are also details of a fatal predatory attack on a 3-year-old boy in the neighbouring
Kermanshah province in 2017.
Rabies in Iran and Iraq.
Our survey of media reports revealed a series of attacks by wolves
with rabies that led to 52 people being injured in Iran and 4 in Iraq in the period from 2015 to
2018. This high frequency indicates that such attacks are widespread.
Turkey and southern Caucasus
. Wolves are widespread in Turkey (Ambarli et al. 2016). Re-
cent scientific articles have provided an overview of attacks by wolves in Turkey. Ambarli (2019)
surveyed Turkish online media and evaluated cases for veracity in the period 2004 to 2016 for
all cases of human-wolf conflict. Within this dataset were 58 episodes where 107 people were
injured and 12 killed by wolves. 88% of the injuries and 75% of the deaths were associated with
rabid wolves. None of the non-rabies attacks were viewed as predatory, being attributed to de-
fensive or provoked categories. The medical literature verifies several of the cases (Kuvat et al.
2011, Turkmen et al. 2012), including a case where a patient died of rabies despite receiving
post-exposure prophylaxis. Our survey of more recent media also revealed multiple reports from
Turkey, two of which could be verified as being due to rabid wolves (
Table A1
).
Media also revealed multiple cases of attacks by rabid wolves in Armenia and Azerbaijan in the
period 2015–2018. Six of these could be verified (
Table A1
). Although 20 of the victims survived,
two children from a case in Azerbaijan died of rabies despite having been given post-exposure
treatment.
Saudi Arabia
. Our media survey picked up 7 cases that reported a wolf attack on humans. One
of these was reported in sufficient detail that we could accept it as being a “verified” case, involv-
ing a shepherd who was injured while defending his sheep flock against an attacking wolf. The
other six cases involved reports of wolves attacking people close to farmhouses, but were not
reported in sufficient detail to permit an evaluation of their veracity, or of the circumstances (ra-
bies or predatory).
Judean Desert, Israel
. Between May and September 2017 there are reports of 10 children being
attacked by wolves in two popular tourist locations in Israel’s Judean Desert. The locations are
Masada National Park and the Ein Gedi Reserve, only 20 km apart. Information is fragmented
with details only available from media, but the events have been verified by two biologists who
interviewed some of the victims’ families (Haim Berger and Amos Bouskila, pers. comm.). In all
cases the families describe a wolf calmly approaching them at campsites, in car parks or other
outdoor areas and trying to grab a child (ages from 1.5 to 6-years-old). Although the children
were bitten and scratched in these attacks none of them suffered serious harm because adults
were able to rapidly intervene and rescue the children. Some attacks were preceded by obser-
vations of a totally fearless wolf approaching them, or entering their tent. There were also ru-
mours of tourists feeding wolves. Although authorities were slow to act, they initially responded
with hazing (paint balls) but finally removed at least one wolf after which the attacks appear to
have stopped. An older media account describes a similar case from Masada in 2008 when a 3-
year-old girl was grabbed next to her parents, but was rescued. Media also report 2 cases of
rabid wolves biting people in the Golan Heights region. Other media accounts report different
cases resulting 6 people being bitten by rabid wolves in the Golan Heights region of northern
Israel.

 
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4.5 South Asia
Wolf attacks in India.
India has often been in the centre of cases about wolf attacks on people,
although solid data on verified cases remains hard to find. Predatory attacks in India were well
documented in the 1980’s and 1990’s (Jhala & Sharma 1997, Rajpurohit 1999, Yadav 2000).
Since then we have not been able to find concrete evidence of similar episodes although media
reports from December 2018 and January 2019 describe a series of 4 predatory attacks (two of
which were fatal) by wolves on children over the course of two months in a limited area in the
Sambhal district of Uttar Pradesh state. Khan (2017) presents a medical case study of the treat-
ment of a 12-year-old boy from the Indian Himalayas who suffered massive facial injuries result-
ing from an animal attack that was attributed to a non-rabid wolf.
A survey was conducted of Forest Department records for the 2 years 2006–07 and 2007–08
concerning people injured or killed by wildlife (see annex reports in Thomassen et al. 2011).
Responses were received from 622 divisions (of 804 contacted) from 25 (of 28) Indian states.
The survey received reports of 608 deaths and 5832 injuries caused by wildlife where the species
responsible was identified. Wolves were identified as being responsible for 12 deaths (1 in Uttar
Pradesh, 7 in Madhya Pradesh, 3 in Maharashtra, 1 in Jharkhand) and 167 injuries. In contrast
elephants killed 286 people, leopards killed 109, sloth bears killed 65 and tigers 41. Interestingly
Nabi et al. (2009) used similar sources to survey human attacks by wildlife in the state of Jammu
and Kashmir for a partly overlapping period (2005–2007). They found additional records of 2
people killed and 5 injured by wolves (leopards killed 16 people and black bears killed 2).
Unfortunately, neither of these surveys could identify what proportion of cases were due to rabid
wolves. Attacks by rabid wolves are commonly reported by the media in India, although scientific
documentation remains rare, see Isloor et al. (2014) for an exception describing an attack where
3 people were bitten in a single attack in the state of Karnataka. Belsare & Vanak (2011) describe
5 attacks that led to 24 people being bitten by rabid wolves (of which 4 died) in the districts of
Ahmednager and Solapur in Maharashtra state in the period 2005–2009. Indian media provide
a detailed description of two episode in September 2010 in Chittoor district in Andhra Pradesh
where rabid wolves bit 40 and 25 people respectively. To provide context, cats and dogs are
responsible for 98% of India’s approximate 20.000 annual cases of human rabies (Mani et al.
2016, Sudarshan et al. 2007).
4.6 Central Asia
Our media survey identified multiple cases of attacks by rabid wolves across central Asia, in-
cluding 1 attack each in Mongolia and Kazakhstan and four in Kyrgyzstan, with a total of 12
victims. One of the Kazakh cases was lethal where an adult male died of rabies despite having
post-exposure treatment. Media also report predatory attacks in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The
Kyrgyz case involved an 11-year-old boy attacked outside his house. He survived because his
father came to the rescue and shot the wolf, which tested negative for rabies. The Tadjik case
involved a child between 2 and 3-years-old who was grabbed in a field while playing with his
older sister. He was carried several hundred meters. By the time rescuers found him he was
already dead.
4.7 Captive wolves, fake news, misrepresentation and mistaken
identities
The media landscape concerning wolf attacks is highly charged and contains multiple reports
that can potentially misrepresent the dangers posed by wolves. For example, there is a Wikipedia
page on wolf attacks that uncritically lists all manner of reports, including those that are verifiable
with those that are not, and many that can be easily rejected. Multiple media cases report cases

NINA Report 1944
20
where people reported a wolf attack even though nobody was injured and where the wolf did not
have contact with the victim. In such cases it is often impossible to know what would have hap-
pened if the people had not managed to escape, or defend themselves. Because it is very hard
to standardise what people perceive as an attack or verify such events including these cases as
attacks risks misrepresenting the situation. However, it is important to keep track of such events
as they may represent early-warning signs of a problematic situation where action is needed, for
example as in the case of wolves in Yellowstone, Denali or the Pacific Rim National Parks in
North America, or with dingos on Fraser Island in Australia.
Media cases also report cases of the bodies of people that have died outdoors and then been
scavenged by predators, including wolves. In such cases it is impossible to know what the orig-
inal cause of death was – i.e. natural causes or predator attack, or which predator was respon-
sible. Again, there is a grave risk of misrepresentation if these cases are uncritically listed as
attacks.
Finally, there are multiple cases where other species were to blame, including domestic dogs or
other predators like foxes or jackals.
Combined, the uncritical confounding of cases with different causes and different degrees of
documentation contribute to public confusion and controversy over the issue. The causes of this
uncritical misrepresentation are not always evident, but at least in Europe and North America it
is evident that certain individuals and groups go to great lengths to actively inflate the dangers
posed by wolves (Linnell & Alleau 2015).
Kolmården Zoo, Sweden 2012
. On June 17
th
, 2012, a 30-year-old female zoo keeper was killed
inside an enclosure where 8 male wolves were kept. The wolves had been socialised to humans
(bottle-fed as pups) so that tourists could be taken into the enclosure together with a zoo keeper
for a close encounter experience. On the morning of her death the zoo keeper had entered the
enclosure alone (information collected from Swedish media).
Rodope prefecture, Greece
. On 21
st
September 2017, a 63-year-old British tourist called her
family in the United Kingdom to report that she was being attacked by stray dogs. When the
telephone connection was broken the family reported her missing which triggered a search. The
remains of her body were found 36 hours later, very heavily consumed, with much of the skeleton
disarticulated. The initial assumption in the media and by local people interviewed all supported
the belief that dogs were responsible. This was because of the location of the attack, next to a
livestock camp where there were a large number of free ranging livestock guarding dogs which
were reported as being aggressive. However, the coroner quickly came to a conclusion that the
victim was killed by wolves or jackals because of the degree of consumption and the breaking of
bones which was viewed as being impossible for dogs. This decision did not in any way account
for the possibility that wolves could have fed on the victim even if dogs had killed it. There is an
ongoing legal proceedings to challenge this conclusion. Evidence against it is based on her last
phone call that claimed she was being attacked by dogs, the presence of a large number of free-
ranging dogs (11 recorded in camera traps a few weeks later), the time of the attack (17:00 —
before wolves become active), and the low number of wolves in the area (2 recorded on camera
traps). Overall, the evidence strongly supports the idea of dogs being to blame for her death,
although wolves and jackals may have also helped consume the remains (Yorgos Iliopoulos and
Christos Astaras, unpublished field report on the case, 2018).
Other cases from Greece
. There are some more reports of wolf attacks that appeared in na-
tional media. Apart from the victims’ claims there was no further investigation from authorities to
verify / confirm those claims (i.e. genetic analysis) as far as we know, making it impossible to
judge their veracity. Rabies is not endemic to Greece anymore so this can be excluded as a
cause (the outbreak in 2012–2013 was successfully treated with aerial vaccination of foxes from
authorities, no rabid animals were found after 2014 and the main vector in the wild was red foxes

NINA Report 1944
21
with no known wolf cases). Greece is known to have problems with free-ranging dogs that can
occur in packs. Some examples of these cases are listed below.
On August 1
st
, 2017, in Kastoria, northern Greece, an old woman claimed that she was attacked
and injured by a wolf when she visited a small sheep pen to feed her animals. The wolf was
already there when she arrived trying to kill one of the sheep. She was injured (bitten) and went
to the hospital for emergency treatment.
Parnassos mountain, central Greece. On November 14
th
, 2017, a shepherd claimed that while
his flock was attacked by a large pack of wolves he was attacked by wolves. He claimed that
while he was trying to scare away the pack, one of the wolves bite him on the hands. He made
a picture of his wounds and posted it in the internet. There were some very minor scratches
resembling nail marks rather than bite marks. He also claimed that the pack had a size of 20
animals (there are no other evidence for such large packs either in Greece or the rest of Europe).
Ieromnimi, Ioannina, western Greece. On April 4
th
, 2018, four Immigrants (3 Syrian and one Iraqi)
called authorities (emergency call) for help and claimed that they were attacked by a pack of
wolves. One of them was injured in the foot and was transferred to the hospital for first aid treat-
ment.
Kavala, northern Greece. On July 21
st
, 2018, a farmer claimed that he was attacked by a wolf in
an unprovoked way (from behind) and was slightly injured in his leg. He managed to scare the
animal away with his son and he went to the hospital for first aid medical treatment. Later on his
son claimed that he saw a fearless wolf following him at a short distance in the same area.
Bulgaria.
Bulgarian media have carried a few stories claiming wolf interactions with people. Un-
fortunately, they have never been verified. In November 2018 an old lady who was herding her
livestock claims to have been bitten by a wolf in Bukovo, southeastern Bulgaria. Media reported
that she was treated in hospital for bites on her arms, but no forensic evidence was available to
confirm that they were caused by a wolf. Wolves do occur in the area, and attacks on livestock
have been reported. Other reports only describe the close approach by animals believed to be
wolves.
Italy
. In June 2015, a man claimed to have been attacked by wolves while picking mushrooms
in the northern Apennines. DNA analysis of saliva from his clothing and bites later indicated that
it was due to a dog, which the man then confessed to being true (Caniglia et al. 2016). This
example illustrates the importance of critically investigating wolf attack claims.
Estonia
. In July 2019, Estonian media carried a story about a wolf attack on an adult lady on the
island of Hiiumaa. Follow-up field investigations and interviews by the Estonian wildlife manage-
ment authorities found no evidence of a wolf attack.
Iran.
In January 2016, an Iranian news portal, Farda News, ran a story about a non-fatal wolf
attack and showed photographs of the victim’s injuries. The photographs actually came from
Canada and show the victim of polar bear attack from the 1990’s. Incidentally, the same images
have previously been falsely claimed to represent a brown bear attack in Slovenia during the
1990’s.
Russia
. In September 2011, Russian media ran a story about a mushroom picker who claimed
to have had two fingers bitten off by a wolf, although it turned out to be due to a mining accident.
In April 2016, another story from Russia reported a man injured by a wolf, but from the images
in the media it appears that this was a husky type dog.

 
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22
5 Results — New overviews of knowledge on other
species
The phenomena of wildlife that attack people have attracted considerable interest in recent
years. This has mainly come from the wildlife conservation discipline, with some limited engage-
ment from medical and public health disciplines. There have been a number of cross species
reviews of attacks (Kelly et al. 2019, Löe & Røskaft 2004, Penteriani et al. 2017a,b, Quammen
2003, Quigley & Herrero 2005, Torres et al. 2018) as well as reviews that focus on more specific
taxonomic groups, like snakebites (Chippaux 2012, Chippaux et al. 2013, Kasturiratne et al.
2008, Mohapatra et al. 2011), bear attacks (Bargali et al. 2005, Bombieri et al. 2019, Clark et al.
2012, Herrero et al. 2011, Gustafsson & Eriksson 2015, Miller et al. 2016, Støen et al. 2018),
large cat species (Athreya et al. 2011, Barlow et al. 2013, Dhanwatey et al. 2013, Garrote et al.
2017, Gurung et al. 2008, Mattson et al. 2011, Neto et al. 2011, Packer et al. 2005, 2019), croc-
odilians (Pooley 2015), sharks (Clua & Linnell 2019) or on specific settings such as urban envi-
ronments (Bombieri et al. 2018).
This literature has firmly put the topic on the conservation agenda within the field of human-
wildlife conflicts. For species groups like bears and cougars these analyses have begun to iden-
tify patterns within the data that shed light on the circumstances and mechanisms behind the
attacks which can inform wildlife management and inform guidelines on how to respond (e.g.
Brown & Connover 2008, Mattson et al. 2011). Our understanding of the mechanisms behind
attacks by large canids (coyotes, wolves, and dingoes) lags behind these other species, although
there have been many recent advances. We summarise the emerging insights from canids be-
low.
5.1 Dingo attacks
Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia.
Fraser Island is a 1670 km
2
island off the coast of east-
ern Australia. It is heavily visited (350.000 visitors per year) and home to 100–200 of the most
genetically pure dingoes in Australia. The dingoes are very visible to visitors and can generally
be described as being extremely habituated in areas where the interactions are frequent (along
the beach and at campgrounds). The island has long been subject to controversy because of
repeated attacks on people. These peaked in 2001 when a 9-year-old boy was killed by dingoes
(see Linnell et al. 2002). Attacks have continued. Appleby et al. (2017) summarised 160 category
E interactions (where dingoes make contact with people) for the period 2001 to 2015. These
interactions included many incidents where dingoes bit people. Although 83% of cases resulted
in only minor injury, 10% required medical treatment and 6% required hospitalisation. The most
recent cases are from 2019, where one baby was snatched from a camper, but was rescued by
its father. Responses have varied. The fatal episode in 2001 resulted in a heavy cull of over 30
dingoes in the immediate aftermath, and a continued use of culling with a total of 110 being killed
in the period 2001–2013. Although still practiced, selective culling of specific dingoes remains
controversial (O’Neill et al. 2017). Hazing has been tested, but generally is not believed to be
effective. Otherwise, the main effort is used on education concerning tourist behaviour, patrolling
and enforcement of behavioural regulations, and fencing of campsites (Tapply 2018).
There is a growing trend for dingoes to colonise suburban environments, in a parallel to that seen
by urban foxes or urban coyotes for example. This opens up a whole new interface for human-
dingo interactions and potential conflicts (Allen et al. 2013). Although it is hard to find details,
there are media and other reports (Anon 2004) concerning dingo attacks on people (as well as
on pets) in these settings. There are also reports of non-lethal attacks on workers at outback
mining camps, associated with feeding (Hughes & Carlsen 2008).

 
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5.2 Coyote attacks
Coyotes have a massive interface with people in North America, occurring in all ecosystems,
including increasingly in urban and sub-urban settings (Gehrt et al. 2011). It is well documented
that coyotes are responsible for attacks on people in North America, although the vast majority
of such attacks are minor, consisting of simple nips or bites. There have been multiple overviews
of the topic in recent years focusing on different regions (Poessel et al. 2013 for Denver, Colo-
rado, Lukasik & Alexander 2011 for Calgary, Alberta, White & Gehrt 2009 for North America,
Alexander & Quinn 2011, 2012 for Canada). The most recent overview (Baker & Timm 2017)
has summarized the available knowledge on the topic from 1970 to 2015. They complied multiple
sources, including those from other publications, media accounts and records kept by various
state, provincial or protected area management authorities. In total they found evidence for 367
attacks by non-rabid coyotes, where an attack is defined as physical contact being made be-
tween a coyote and a human and where the coyote initiated the contact. These attacks led to
327 injured people. Only two attacks were fatal: a 3-year-old girl in California, USA, in 1981 and
a 19-year-old woman in Nova Scotia, Canada in 2009 (see below). 60% of attacks were on
adults.
Most attacks appear to be associated with urban green-space or sub-urban residential settings
or with protected areas (Poessel et al. 2013, Carbyn 1989, Lukasik & Alexander 2011). Many of
the attacks seem to have been predatory or investigative in nature (White & Gehrt 2009), espe-
cially those directed at children. A common element in all these cases seems to be situations
with coyotes that are strongly habituated to the presence of people. This is typical in urban, sub-
urban and protected area settings where coyotes are constantly exposed to humans with only
neutral or positive associations. The presence of food associations with humans makes matters
worse. Baker & Timm (2017) have developed a scale of behaviours that are intended to reflect
a gradient of habituation, and recommend intervention in the form of lethal removal of specific
coyotes when coyotes begin to openly attack pets or approach people in day time. Otherwise,
the focus is on preventing food habituation, limiting access to anthropogenic food-sources, stop-
ping people from feeding coyotes and other non-lethal interventions such as hazing.
However, it is important to bear in mind that coyotes are very widespread in North America and
are found in most protected areas and many cites (Gehrt et al. 2010, 2011). This implies that
vast majority of coyotes that regularly encounter people are never involved in attacks.
Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada
. On October 28
th
, 2009, a 19-
year-old women, Taylor Mitchell, was attacked by coyotes while hiking alone on a popular trail
in Cape Breton Highlands national park. Other hikers heard her scream. When they followed the
sounds, they found her being attacked by two coyotes. It required the efforts of four people to
get the coyotes to stop the attack, although they remained nearby. Finally, a shotgun shot by a
police officer caused the coyotes to leave the area. Although she was alive when found, she later
died in hospital. It was apparent that she had been fighting off the coyotes while trying to retreat
to a toilet building. Six coyotes were shot or trapped in the vicinity in the subsequent days, and
forensic evidence linked several of them to the attack. None appeared to be in bad condition, or
infected with rabies (orter 2013, Power 2015, Sponarski et al. 2015a,b,c). The park has had
multiple cases of apparently habituated or fearless coyotes being observed in the period 2003–
2016, with 16 reports of aggressive behavior and at least one other case of a bite (Porter 2013).
Two coyotes had been seen walking past hikers on the same trail minutes before the attack. One
issue to bear in mind is that coyotes in the maritime provinces of eastern Canada contain a high
degree of genetic introgression from wolves (either
Canis lupus
or
Canis lycaon)
and tend to be
larger than normal western coyotes (Way & Lynn 2016).

 
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5.3 Red foxes
Red foxes have moved into urban settings in recent decades in many European cities. Although
their ecology is widely studied there has been little systematic study of any conflicts resulting
from this colonization. Bridge & Harris (2020) provide a preliminary media-based survey of
events and documents multiple episodes of where urban foxes are involved in biting people,
mainly children. The small size of foxes implies that injuries are minor, and in western Europe
rabies is absent, so the conflict is not that serious. However, there is clearly an opportunity to
learn parallel lessons from this species that may be relevant for dealing with habituation issues
in other, larger, canids (Parsons et al. 2020).

 
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6 Discussion
Our survey of available sources unearthed multiple cases of wolf attacks on people in the period
from 2002 until 2020. Of these cases that involved 489 victims (with the highest degree of ve-
racity and enough information to categorise them;
Table 1
), we categorised 67 as predatory
attacks, 380 as rabid attacks, and 42 as provoked / defensive attacks. The cases fitted into the
broad categories that were identified in 2002 (Linnell et al. 2002). Firstly, we identified a small
number of cases where wolves bit people in response to direct provocation, typically when shep-
herds tried to kill a wolf without firearms, or tried to manually separate a wolf from their flocks.
Secondly, we uncovered many cases of attacks by wolves with rabies across Eurasia. Finally,
we also found evidence of a small number of predatory attacks, a few of which were fatal. Con-
sidering that the global wolf population numbers in the 100’s of thousands
(
https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/3746/163508960
)
and their overlap with 100’s of millions of
rural people our finding of less than 10 lethal cases of predatory attacks across almost 20 years
illustrates how small the risks are. In the next sections we shall explore these categories in detail
and outline some implications for wildlife management, human safety and wildlife conservation
policies.
Table 1
. Overview of wolf attacks on people (expressed as number of victims) found from the
period 2002–2020, with special focus on 2015–2018. Data comes from multiple sources and
includes only those cases for which we judged the veracity to be high, and where we had enough
information to attribute the attack to a category. Coverage for Europe and North America is good
for the whole period 2002-2020, but for other countries the numbers are only minimums.
Attack type
Outcome
Number
Distribution
Predatory
Fatal
9
Canada 1, USA 1, Iran 6, Tajikistan 1
Non-fatal
58
Canada 3, USA 1, Poland 4, Italy 1, Kosovo 1, Iran 36, Is-
rael 10,
India 1, Kyrgyzstan 1
Rabies
Fatal
14
Turkey 9, India 4, Kazakhstan 1
Non-fatal
366
Croatia 1, Ukraine 57, Belarus 9, Moldova 2, Russia 20,
Turkey 94, India 88, Mongolia 2, Iran 52, Iraq 4, Armenia
5, Azerbaijan 16, Kazakhstan 1, Kyrgyzstan 9, Israel 6
Defensive /
provoked
Fatal
3
Turkey 3
Non-fatal
39
North Macedonia 1, Iran 17, Turkey 11, Kyrgyzstan 3,
Kazakhstan 2, Ukraine 1, Russia 3, Saudi Arabia 1
6.1 Attacks by rabid wolves — summary of new knowledge
Our new survey indicates that attacks by rabid wolves continue to be a regular occurrence in
Eurasia, southern Asia and the Middle East. From the technical literature we found new evidence
of attacks in countries as diverse as Belarus (Mishaeva et al. 2007), China (Wang et al. 2014),
India (Isloor et al. 2014), Iran (Gholami et al. 2014, 2017, Simani et al. 2012), Mongolia
(Odontsetseg et al. 2009), Turkey (Ambarli 2019, Ambarli et al. 2016, Kuvat et al. 2011, Tug
2005, Turkmen et al. 2012), and Ukraine (Shkvyria et al. 2018). In addition, there was one record
of an attack within the present day boundaries of the European Union, in Croatia (Lojkic et al.

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2010. Our survey of recent media cases found robust evidence of attacks by rabid wolves in
Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Russia,
Israel, Turkey, and Ukraine (see
Table A1
).
In contrast to historical times when a bite from a rabid wolf was almost inevitably fatal, rapid post
exposure treatment presently means that most victims now survive. However, some people are
killed outright by trauma in the attacks, and some may die of rabies when treatment is withheld,
arrives too late, was not provided correctly, or if the bite was in the head or neck region so that
the disease develops before the post-exposure treatment has time to take effect (Ambarli 2019,
Ambarli et al. 2016, Mishaeva et al. 2007, Simani et al. 2012, Turkmen et al. 2012).
Table 2
. Overview of estimated number of annual human deaths from canine (domestic dogs)
rabies (both from Hampson et al. 2015), numbers of wolves diagnosed with rabies for European
countries in period 2002–2020
(
www.who-rabies-bulletin.org
),
and reports of attacks by rabid
wolves on humans for the same period (this report).
Country
Estimated annual
number of human
deaths from canine
rabies
Attacks by rabid
wolves on humans
Number of wolf
rabies cases
India
20.847
Yes — multiple
na
China
6.002
Yes
na
Iran
37
Yes — multiple
na
Russia
33
Yes — multiple
168
Turkey
24
Yes — multiple
59
Iraq
24
Yes
na
Tadjikistan
16
No
na
Kazakhstan
14
Yes — multiple
na
Kyrgyzstan
7
Yes — multiple
na
Georgia
5
No
6
Azerbaijan
5
Yes — multiple
na
Ukraine
2
Yes — multiple
169
Belarus
1
Yes — multiple
85
Romania
1
No
25
Armenia
0
Yes
na
Mongolia
1
Yes
na
Moldova
1
Yes
na
Israel
0
Yes
na
Bosnia & Herzegovina
0
No
6
North Macedonia
0
No
4
Poland
0
No
4
Lithuania
0
No
4
Latvia
0
No
3
Croatia
0
Yes
3
Montenegro
0
No
3
Bulgaria
0
No
2
Albania
0
No
1
Serbia
0
No
0
Switzerland
0
No
0
Norway
0
No
0
Rest of mainland EU*
0
No
0
*Slovenia, Austria, Hungary, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Czech Republic, Slovakia,
Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg, Estonia, Greece.

 
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The distribution of attacks by rabid wolves closely matches that of the distribution of cases of
wolf rabies and canine transmitted cases of human deaths (
Table 2
). Turkey, Russia, Ukraine
and Belarus are the sources of 89% of confirmed cases of wolf rabies in the wider “European”
zone as monitored by WHO for the period 2002–2019. They also represent the countries where
we found most evidence of attacks on people. Rabies controls in Europe continues to push back
the disease to the eastern edges of the continent (Hampson et al. 2015, Müller et al. 2015). The
implication is that while attacks by rabid wolves will continue to be an issue across eastern Eur-
asia and the Middle East, the risks in Europe will decrease to almost zero, with the possible
exception of border zones to countries where rabies persists. Unfortunately, there is no easily
accessible comparable data on wolf rabies for countries in the Middle East, the Caucasus or
Central Asia because of poor surveillance. However, rabies is known to be widespread through-
out these regions, as indicated by the cases of human rabies (Hampson et al. 2015). The extent
to which rabies cases leads to death is directly linked to the availability of healthcare in the coun-
try, which explains why India has such a massive proportion of the global rabies deaths, in con-
trast to countries like Iran for example that have a well-established rabies response within their
healthcare system.
It is important to put these results into context and bear in mind that probably 99% of human
rabies cases are transmitted from domestic animals, especially cats and dogs (Hampson et al.
2015). Even among wildlife it is the smaller and more common species like foxes and jackals
that are responsible for the vast majority of transmissions. There are many details lacking in our
understanding of the linkages between wildlife and domestic animal rabies cycles, and where
wolves fit into these systems. However, ongoing efforts to vaccinate wildlife and domestic dogs
(e.g. the WHO’s Zero-by-30 campaign
https://www.who.int/rabies/news/RUA-Rabies-launch-
plan-achieve-zero-rabies-human-deaths-2030/en/
),
control dog populations (Dalla Villa et al.
2010) and improvements in availability of human post-exposure treatments should lead to a pro-
gressive decline in the risks posed by rabid wolves, and a restriction of this risk to smaller geo-
graphic areas.
6.2 Predatory attacks — summary of new knowledge
Although predatory attacks appear to be widespread in the historical sources, they are relatively
rare in contemporary situations. Some of the best documented cases mentioned in the 2002
report stemmed from India (Jhala & Sharma 1997, Rajpurohit 1999). We have uncovered an
additional source that refers to a series of attacks that reportedly killed 17 children in the Indian
state of Madhya Pradesh in 1985–86 (Yadav 2000). We have not found any evidence of these
persistent and localised incidences in recent times. However, wolves are still identified as being
responsible for multiple isolated deaths across India, although the documentation does not per-
mit the separation of rabies or predatory attacks.
In contrast, two recent papers provide reports of a series of attacks in western Iran (Behdarvand
et al. 2014, Behdarvand & Kaboli 2015). Between 2001 and 2015 they gathered reports of 53
attacks of which 5 were fatal. They were mainly focused on children, with all victims of fatal cases
between 3 and 6 years old. Although rabies is known to be present in the region (Gholami et al.
2014, 2017), it was excluded in these cases which were interpreted by the authors as being
mainly predatory. Media cases report further attacks, both lethal (n=1) and non-lethal (n=6) from
the wider region of western Iran in subsequent years. Our media survey identified one similar
case from Tajikistan from 2017 where a 2-year-old child was grabbed and carried away by a wolf
and killed. The socio-ecological situation is rather similar to that of the Indian cases from the
1980’s and 1990’s (see above) and many of the historical cases of clustered attacks, with poor
rural communities, landscapes with few wild prey, and wolves that depend on consuming gar-
bage, carrion and livestock. Such situations bring wolves into frequent and close contact with
people where children are often vulnerable and exposed. Under these circumstances it appears
that a very small minority of wolves may test the potential of children as prey, and that this may

 
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reoccur in an even smaller proportion of cases. With ongoing changes in global development
across Eurasia it is likely that these circumstances will become increasingly rare.
Two high profile cases occurred in North America where an adult male (in Canada in 2005) and
an adult female (in Alaska in 2010) were killed by wolves in predatory attacks. In addition, there
have been several well-documented cases of people bitten by wolves in the United States (Min-
nesota), Canada (British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Alberta), Poland, and Israel, in what ap-
pear to be predatory attacks. These are all associated with very different socio-ecological condi-
tions, i.e. situations with relatively developed societies, low to medium human densities, and
relatively abundant wild prey populations. The Minnesota case had a clear explanation in the
form of a wolf with severe injuries (Schwabenlander et al. 2016). The Alaska case stands out
from all others in that there were no warnings or underlying risk conditions (Butler et al. 2011).
The other cases were however, associated with situations in which wolves were frequently seen
close to people, were demonstrating an extreme lack of shyness, and in many cases where they
were accustomed to using anthropogenic food sources or killing pets on a regular basis. Many,
but not all, of these cases occurred in protected areas or in landscapes with low hunting pressure
on wolves. These wolf cases are very similar to those with coyotes and dingoes described earlier.
Although the vast majority of large canids in these situations never attack people, there are
enough indications pointing to risks that it is important to explore what we know about these
processes associated with habituation. This is especially so because these are circumstances
that are likely to increase in the future in the western world (Newsome et al. 2017) and because
the risks associated with wolves that are “bold” or “fearless” has become a central part of con-
troversies and public debates around the dangers posed by wolves across the western world
(Linnell & Alleau 2015).
6.3 What do we know about habituation, boldness and aggression in
carnivores?
Because of the paucity of wolf-specific data the following discussion is built on a broad compar-
ison of data from canids, namely wolves, dingoes, coyotes and red foxes because the underlying
behavioural processes are similar.
Habituation is the process by which individuals reduce their response to certain external factors
and thereby learn to tolerate them, including raising their tolerance for the proximity of anthropo-
genic influences. Bolder or more explorative animals are likely to habituate faster because they
are likely to have greater exposure. There is a general understanding that most carnivores living
in human-dominated landscapes have achieved a high degree of habituation (Baker & Timm
2017). For example, Yellowstone wolf packs that are most exposed to human road traffic show
the greatest degree of tolerance to it (Anton et al. 2020). Dispersal age wolves are also more
tolerant of anthropogenic structures, and the exposure to this during dispersal may make them
more tolerant of these features as adults (Barry et al. 2020). But the processes leading to habit-
uation are complex.
The study of animal behavioral traits that reflect “animal personality” has accumulated decades
of experience from species in captivity, however, the study of animal personality in the wild lags
behind (Blumstein 2016, Fagen & Fagen 1996, Sol et al. 2013, Wolf & Weissing 2012) due to
the massive logistical challenges involved. Individual behavior is shaped by multiple aspects.
Multiple studies in many species have shown that behavioural traits are partially inherited, cre-
ating a genetic predisposition to certain personalities. However, this predisposition is then sub-
ject to being modified by multiple factors, including (1) the individuals own experiences, (2) teach-
ing from parents, (3) the behavior of siblings and litter-mates, (4) body condition, (5) age, (6) sex
and even (7) pre-natal maternal effects (epigenetics). This complexity means that it will be almost
impossible to identify the specific drivers behind any individual personality. There are also strong
selective reasons to maintain a diversity of behavioural types, even within litters (Wolf et al.
2007).

 
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Ethologists recognize five main gradients along which individual animals are located. These are
(1) shyness / boldness, (2) explorative / avoidance, (3) aggression, (4) sociability, and (5) activity.
Of main concern for the study of wolf attacks on humans are the shyness - boldness and the
explorative - avoidance gradients. There is evidence that these trait groups exist in domestic
dogs and captive wolves (Svartberg & Forkman 2002, Wheat et al. 2019a,b), although there are
subtle differences between dog breeds, and between dogs and wolves in general. It is unlikely
that aggression is related to predation, because aggression is normally viewed as an intra-spe-
cific behaviour not associated with prey. However, it may play a role in wolf attacks on domestic
dogs (Butler et al. 2014) in circumstances where this is driven by dominance or a perception of
dogs as being wolves.
There is a broad research base documenting that individuals of multiple species with bolder or
more explorative behaviour are those likely to be favoured in human-dominated landscapes (Sol
et al. 2013). When considering wolf conservation in the Anthropocene it is clear that wolves will
need the behavioural traits that allow them to inhabit human-modified and human-dominated
landscapes. Studies have demonstrated that urban coyotes show a greater degree of boldness
and exploratory behavior than rural coyotes (Breck et al. 2019), and that young coyotes raised
by habituated parents become more habituated themselves (Schell et al. 2018). Heritability for
certain traits and selection for them can lead to evolutionary processes akin to domestication
(see Newsome et al. 2017 for a discussion, and Parsons et al. 2020 for a case study of urban
red foxes). Although the extent to which this is happening to wolves is unknown, the issue of
how humans are imposing a “domesticating” selective effect on wildlife is a growing topic of
research (Mysterud 2010).
Irrespective of the relative roles of innate genetic predisposition or acquired experience, high
degrees of habituation are likely to bring individual wolves into closer contact with human-domi-
nated landscapes, human habitations, and humans, as well as facilitate the testing of novel,
anthropogenic food sources. Combined, these are factors that increase the risk for conflicts,
including the risk of predatory attacks on people. However, the mere fact that wolves can tolerate
being in human-dominated landscapes and the proximity of human disturbance does not imply
that they are automatically a danger to humans. Rather these traits are a necessity for survival
in the Anthropocene. The situations which are more concerning are those where wolves (1) begin
to show tolerance for the close proximity of humans (i.e. within 30–50 m), (2) begin to directly
approach people, and (3) when they begin to associate humans directly with food. Even these
situations do not automatically imply that wolves will attack, but they are circumstances associ-
ated with many of the attacks documented in this report.
Baker and Timm (2017) have developed a scale of habituation for coyotes based on decades of
study of urban, sub-urban and rural populations. They view low levels of habituation as essential
to allow coyotes to share space with humans, but recommend taking action against coyotes
when habituation passes stages associated with individuals approaching or being fearless with
humans at short distances and in daylight. Most of the cases identified above where predatory
attacks occur were associated with advanced degrees of habituation in which wolves were
openly being seen by people in daytime, or when they actively approached them. Although such
situations will not escalate in the majority of situations, public safety concerns suggest that it may
be appropriate to react in a precautionary manner. The question then remains as to which reac-
tions are appropriate?
6.4 Managing risk in human-dominated landscapes
There are a range of options available to respond to wolves showing undesired behavior, which
can be viewed along a gradient of invasiveness, and from proactive to reactive.

 
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6.4.1 Remove food sources.
Excluding wolves from food sources that are directly associated with humans is both an important
proactive measure and a first line reactive measure. This implies both food sources in close
spatial proximity to humans and food sources that permit an association of food with humans.
This includes actions like fencing garbage dumps and land-fills, and ensuring proper disposal of
carcasses from farms. The most important action is to prevent the deliberate feeding of wolves
by photographers or those acting out of a misguided desire to “help” wolves. A special case
concerns areas where food is mainly provided for bears either to photograph (e.g. in Finland) or
to reduce conflict and facilitate hunting (across the Balkans and Carpathians) and where wolves
may also obtain food (Kavcic et al. 2013, Penteriani et al. 2017b, Steyaert et al. 2014). These
feeding activities are highly controversial for multiple reasons, however they probably do not
facilitate habituation greatly because of their remote locations and the general absence of any
direct association with humans or areas of habitation.
6.4.2 Hazing.
The principle of hazing is to provide a negative stimulus that can be associated with the presence
of humans or their structures which can change wolf behavior. In other words, to undo the effects
of habituation. As such it constitutes a form of aversive conditioning (Smith et al. 2000). There is
a very large degree of uncertainty concerning the effectivity of hazing at inducing greater shyness
in wild canids (Snijders et al. 2019). Most published experience comes from studies with dingoes
and coyotes, both in the wild and in captivity (Appleby et al. 2017, Darrow & Shivik 2009, Edgar
et al. 2007, Smith et al. 2020, Young et al. 2019). Based on the published data from canids and
other species it is possible to draw the following preliminary conclusions:
(1) Mild negative stimuli like water-pistols, whistles, horns and lights have minimal effects, alt-
hough combinations work better than single stimuli. The cases that report success used rubber
bullets or shotgun propelled bean bags.
(2) There is massive individual variation due to personality type and the degree of habituation.
(3) It is important to react early in the process.
(4) It is harder to treat animals that are food conditioned than those that are simply accustomed
to the presence of humans.
(5) Multiple treatments may be necessary.
(6) It is important to administer the hazing in the specific situations that you wish to discourage.
In other words, experience is mixed with there being good examples of successful hazing and
examples when it doesn’t work. A key aspect concerns the logistical practicality of detecting the
unwanted behavior early enough and being able to administer a targeted hazing activity often
enough to achieve the desired effect. The apparent success of hazing in situations like for wolves
in Yellowstone National Park, or some urban coyote settings, is possible because of the extreme
visibility of animals. In other words, their habituation to the general presence of people in the
vicinity makes it easier to use hazing to discourage more specific behaviours. For shyer animals
it may be almost impossible to deliver targeted and frequent hazing. Several North American
cities have attempted to use “citizen hazing” where residents and park users for example are
encouraged to try and haze urban coyotes whenever they see one. Although there has been
success in the uptake of the idea among citizens the effect on coyote behavior seems to be
mixed (Bonnell & Breck 2017, Breck et al. 2017, White & Delaup 2012).
Overall, there is still a huge amount of uncertainty surrounding the utility of hazing, and there is
clearly a need for much more data collection and systematic study of canid behaviour and their
response to humans (e.g. through approach studies Wam et al. 2014). However, there is enough
experience to say that in some situations it can work, and that in other situations it is not suffi-
cient. The only other option that exists is to remove the animal.

 
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6.4.3 Selective animal removal.
In cases where individual wolves display undesired or unacceptable behavior and where hazing
has either failed or is not practical the only option is to remove the individual animal from the
wild. Live capture is a theoretical possibility but is exceptionally time-consuming, expensive, and
difficult. Furthermore, there is the question of what to do with the animal once captured. Clearly
it cannot be released back into the wild because there are no locations without human presence,
so the only option is to keep it in captivity for life. Introducing a wild-born wolf into a captive
environment represents considerable practical and animal welfare challenges, and involves
enormous costs. Overall, the only realistic option in most situations will be to shoot the wolf in
the field. Lethal control is quicker, more efficient, far cheaper, and arguably more humane. Lethal
control is by far the most commonly employed measure used in response to attacks on people
or in situations where animals are identified as being threats to human safety. This includes
within protected areas such as Yellowstone, Banff, Cape Breton Highlands, Pacific Rim, Fraser
Island and Masada National Parks. When unwanted behaviours can be linked to specific individ-
uals, it is obvious that removing the individuals will at least temporarily remove the threat, and
provides an opportunity to initiate measures to minimize the chances that the unwanted behav-
iours resume when new individuals recolonize the same territories. Breck et al. (2017) have
conducted one of the few studies on the utility of lethal control (on urban coyotes) and document
that it produces significant, and lasting, benefits. However, they underline that while lethal control
can address issues once they arise, a sustainable wildlife management strategy must also invest
in proactive actions to prevent the development of problematic behaviour in new individuals.
6.4.4 Wolf hunting.
There is a lot of public discussion concerning whether routine hunting of wolves serves to reduce
the risks of habituation and attacks on people. It is important to consider by what mechanism it
can have an effect. Potentially, it could work via several mechanisms.
(1) Population reduction, which is based on the assumptions that the risk of problematic behav-
iour is density dependent and that hunting lowers the population.
(2) Learning, which is based on the assumption that the disturbance caused by hunting induces
shyness in wolves.
(3) Selection, which is based on the assumption that certain wolves have a genetic predisposition
to problematic behaviour and that hunting can disproportionately remove these animals.
Some of the predatory attacks described in this report occur in areas where wolf populations are
subject to hunter harvest and / or trapping (e.g. the fatal attacks in Alaska, Saskatchewan, Ta-
jikistan, and the non-fatal attack in Port Edwards). Although many of the other cases appear to
be associated with protected areas where there is no hunting of wolves, these protected areas
are small “islands” of protection in wider landscapes where wolves are subject to hunting and /
or persecution. It would therefore appear to be unlikely that there is a strong population level
benefit operating through selection against a genetic predisposition to boldness. Furthermore,
Wolf et al. (2007) present arguments as to why there should be a strong selection to maintain
multiple personality types within populations. In contrast it is possible that hunting could remove
individuals that begin to show extreme habituated behavior and / or that the disturbance caused
by the process of hunting could serve as a form of hazing. At present it is impossible to conclude
on this issue. However, there is a real need to obtain robust scientific data on this issue from
field studies of wolves under different management regimes.
6.4.5 Management protocols.
Wolf management will always be highly controversial among both professionals and the public,
especially when lethal control is discussed (Lute et al. 2018, Donfrancesco et al. 2019). It is
therefore very important to establish clear management guidelines in advance that detail how
authorities will respond to different situations, with the actions scaled according to the level of

NINA Report 1944
32
threat posed by the animal. For example, such guidelines exist for Yellowstone, Denali and Fra-
ser Island National Parks as well as for Germany (Anon 2003, Anon 2007, Anon 2013, Reinhardt
et al. 2018). The Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe (a Specialist Group within the International
Union for the Conservation of Nature) has built on these to generate a broad set of guidelines,
summarized below in
Table 3
. Reactive guidelines also need to be accompanied by clear guid-
ance on prevention measures, especially related to the feeding of wolves. A final aspect is to
clarify issues of legal liability (Stringham 2013), especially important in protected areas.

 
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33
Table 3
. Assessment of wolf behavior and an assessment of the risk it may pose for human
safety with recommendations for action based on Reinhardt et al. 2018 and guidelines drawn up
by the Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe.
Behavior
Assessment
Recommendation for action
Wolf passes close to settlements
in the dark.
Not dangerous.
No need for action.
Wolf moves within sighting dis-
tance of settlements / scattered
houses during daylight.
Not dangerous.
No need for action.
Wolf does not run away immedi-
ately when seeing vehicles or hu-
mans. Stops and observes.
Not dangerous.
No need for action.
Wolf is seen over several days
<30m from inhabited houses (mul-
tiple events over a longer time pe-
riod).
Demands attention.
Possible problem of strong ha-
bituation or positive condition-
ing.
Analyze situation.
Search for attractants and re-
move them if found.
Consider aversive condition-
ing.
Wolf repeatedly allows people to
approach it within 30m.
Demands attention.
Indicates strong habituation.
Possible problem of positive
conditioning.
Analyze situation.
Consider aversive condition-
ing.
Wolf repeatedly approaches peo-
ple by itself closer than 30m.
Seems to be interested in people.
Demands attention / critical sit-
uation.
Positive conditioning and
strong habituation may lead to
an increasingly bold behavior.
Risk of injury.
Consider aversive condition-
ing.
Remove the wolf if appropri-
ate aversive conditioning is
not successful or practical.
Wolf attacks or injures a human
without being provoked.
Dangerous.
Removal.
6.4.6 Communication.
The messaging associated with the risk posed by wolves is complex. On one hand it is important
to communicate that the risks posed by wild wolves is so small that it cannot be calculated,
especially in European and North American settings, so as to reduce fear. On the other hand, it
is important to communicate that this risk is not zero, in order to prepare the public for the pos-
sible need of reactive measures and to gain acceptance for proactive actions / restrictions. The
understanding of the risks from wolves is growing, and it increasingly appears that wolves are
broadly similar to bears where the risks are much more widely understood, i.e. most individuals
are not dangerous, but that there are risks from habituated and especially food-conditioned indi-
viduals, and on some rare occasions unpredictable and unprovoked incidents will occur. This
should permit a more unified and coherent messaging. Wolves also have the advantage that
information on how to react to an eventual close encounter or attack are similar to how people
should respond to encountering free-ranging domestic dogs which are familiar to most people.
It is also a challenge to communicate the details of what constitutes risky behavior. The mere
presence of a wolf in a human-dominated landscape is not a cause for concern. The presence
of a wolf passing a house or walking along a road is not an issue. Seeing a wolf at a distance is
not a risk. The problem arises if there are repeated episodes of sightings of wolves at short
distances where the wolf does not react with caution or where wolves are regularly consuming
food of anthropogenic origin in proximity to people or houses.
Such information needs to be carefully designed and communicated and again can be modelled
on the more widespread information concerning attacks from other species like bears and

 
NINA Report 1944
34
cougars (Brown & Conover 2008, Penteriani et al. 2017a, Smith et al. 2012) and it is highly
beneficial if such information campaigns are scientifically designed and monitored to allow con-
tinual improvements (see Sponarski et al. 2016a,b, 2018, 2019 for a good example).
6.4.7 Forensic and documentation procedures.
If an attack by a wolf is reported it is essential that the cases are properly investigated using
formal forensic procedures. This is because of the risk of confusing dog attacks for wolf attacks,
either deliberately (Caniglia et al. 2016) or by mistake (Fonseca & Palacios 2013). Many of the
reports that we list in the previous sections remain unverified because there was no follow up of
the attacks. Dog attacks are massively more common than wolf attacks (Cornelissen & Hopster
2010, Horisberger et al. 2004, Golinko et al. 2017, Rosado et al. 2009). There is a growing body
of forensic evidence describing the characteristics of attacks by wolves, dogs and other carni-
vores (e.g. Butler et al. 2011, De Munnynck & Van de Voorde 2002, Heinze et al. 2014, Gud-
mannsson & Berge 2019, Gustafsson & Eriksson 2015, Khan 2017, McNay 2007, Salem &
Marinescu 2008, Santoro et al. 2011, Tsokos et al. 2007 and older references in Linnell et al.
2002), which needs to be synthesized and made available to medical staff, first responders, law
enforcement and wildlife management staff (Dietrichs 2016). Wolf and dog attacks are broadly
similar, so it is essential that DNA samples are secured from bite wounds and from the surface
of skin and clothing surrounding bites. This is essential to both unambiguously identify the right
species and to identify if the correct individual has been caught or killed after the attack.
6.4.8 Knowledge needs.
There are very many gaps in our knowledge concerning bold / fearless / habituated wolves and
the reactions to humans in human-dominated landscapes. These behaviours are logistically
challenging to study in the field and their interactions with humans are very rare. One approach
that exists is to better log ongoing incidents to accumulate a larger body of detailed case reports
that will provide insights over time (Huber et al. 2016). It is also necessary to better record expe-
rience with different interventions, such as hazing or lethal control such that it is possible to better
document the efficacy of different actions. However, really detailed insights will have to come
from the analysis of movement and behavioural data from GPS-collared wolves to study how
they react to human disturbance (e.g. Barry et al. 2020). One interesting approach is to use
intensive GPS data to study fine scale movements close to houses (Odden et al. 2018) or to
study how wolves react to deliberate approaches by people. This experimental design has been
used a little with wolves (Wam et al. 2014) and intensively with bears (Moen et al. 2012, 2019,
Ordiz et al. 2019). This systematic approach can be repeated in different situations to understand
factors explaining differences in wolf response to humans.

 
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35
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8 Appendix
Table A1
. List of cases of wolf attacks that were identified as being reliable (“verified”) found by
systematically searching media and online sources during the period 2015–2018. This period
was chosen as being recent, and was limited by our resources. Verification is based on the level
of detail provided, the sources cited, as well as the availability of official documents. The main
focus was on Russian speaking countries with a secondary focus on those of the eastern Medi-
terranean and Middle East. An asterisk (*) indicates victims which were not killed directly by a
wolf but died of rabies. Note that other cases found through more ad hoc approaches and search-
ers of the scientific literature are only listed in the text. Details of media and other sources are
available from the authors on request.
Date of attack
Country
Region
Victims
Type of attack
Injury
Death
August 29
th
, 2016
Canada
Saskatchewan
1
predatory
June 12th, 2018
Poland
Podkarpackie province
1
presumably
predatory
June 26
th
, 2018
Poland
Podkarpackie province
2
predatory
January 29
th
, 2016
North
Macedonia
Skopje statistical
region
1
unknown
February 16
th
or 17
th
, 2015 Russia
Astrakhan region
5
rabid
September 8
th
, 2015
Russia
Kabardino- Balkar
Republic
3
rabid
October 4
th
, 2015
Russia
Rostov region
3
rabid
January 2016
Russia
Rostov region
2
defensive
February 16
th
, 2016
Russia
Vologda region
1
presumably
defensive
February 17
th
, 2016
Russia
Rostov region
2
rabid
July 6
th
, 2017, or earlier
Russia
Rostov region
1
rabid
December 10
th
, 2017
Russia
Krasnoyarsk region
4
rabid
January 31
st
, 2015
Ukraine
Zhytomyr region
1
rabid
February 4
th
, 2017
Ukraine
Chernihiv region
3
rabid
February 16
th
, 2017
Ukraine
(Russia)
Autonomous Republic
of Crimea
1
presumably
defensive
December 9
th
, 2017
Ukraine
Donetsk region
1
presumably rabid
January 4
th
–5
th
, 2018
Ukraine
Chernihiv region
3
rabid
January 7
th
, 2018
Ukraine
Rivne region
1
rabid
January 19
th
, 2015
Belarus
Gomel region
3
rabid
July 7
th
, 2016
Belarus
Gomel region
4
rabid
January 2
nd
, 2018
Belarus
Gomel region
2
presumably rabid
October 16
th
, 2018
Moldova
Camenca district
2
rabid
January 11
th
, 2015
Iran
Kurdistan province
4
rabid
July 6
th
–7
th
or 7
th
–8
th
, 2015 Iran
Hamadan province
2
predatory
November 28
th
–29
th
, 2015 Iran
Gilan province
6
rabid
December 8
th
, 2015
Iran
Gilan province
1
unknown
February 20
th
, 2016
Iran
Qazvin province
1
unknown
April 2
nd
, 2016
Iran
Ardabil province
5
rabid
April 17
th
, 2016
Iran
Zanjan province
1
defensive / rabid
June 3
rd
, 2016
Iran
Hamadan province
1
predatory
October 31
st
, 2016
Iran
East Azerbaijan
province
10
presumably rabid
mid-April to mid-June 2017 Iran
Zanjan province
1
unknown
April 18
th
, 2017
Iran
Zanjan province
1
predatory
May 5
th
, 2017
Iran
Zanjan province
1
predatory
May 27
th
, 2017
Iran
Qazvin province
7
rabid

NINA Report 1944
46
June 12
th
, 2017
Iran
Zanjan province
7
rabid
c. June 24
th
, 2017
Iran
Ardabil province
1
presumably rabid
July 18
th
, 2017
Iran
Kermanshah province
1
predatory
October 17
th
, 2017
Iran
Isfahan province
4 or 5
rabid
January 11
th
, 2018
Iran
Zanjan province
3
rabid
August 25
th
, 2018
Iran
Qazvin province
4 or 6
presumably rabid
January 13
th
, 2018
Iraq
Al-Qādisiyyah
governorate
4
presumably rabid
June 20
th
, 2015
Turkey
Çorum province
2
presumably rabid
April 1
st
, 2017
Turkey
Erzurum province
4
rabid
March 24
th
, 2015
Armenia
Vayots Dzor province
5
presumably rabid
March 21
st
, 2016
Armenia
Vayots Dzor province
1
unknown
October 25th, 2015
Azerbaijan
Agsu district
2
unknown
November 29
th
, 2015
Azerbaijan
city of Mingecevir
1
unknown
May 30
th
, 2016
Azerbaijan
Ismailli district
1
defensive / rabid
February 21
st
, 2017
Azerbaijan
Salyan district
1
unknown
July 20
th
, 2017
Azerbaijan
Salyan district
1
defensive / rabid
July 25
th
, 2017
Azerbaijan
Aghstafa district
1
rabid
August 6
th
, 2017
Azerbaijan
Agsu district
2
rabid
May 28
th
, 2018
Azerbaijan
(Republic of
Artsakh / Na-
gorno-
Karabakh)
Khojavend district
(Hadrut province)
2
2*
rabid
November 28
th
–29
th
, 2018 Azerbaijan
Lankaran and Astara
districts
9
rabid
November 18
th
, 2017
Saudi Arabia Aseer region
1
defensive
beginning of May 2017
Israel
Southern district
1
predatory
c. May 29
th
, 2017
Israel
Southern district
1
predatory
May 31
st
, 2017
Israel
Southern district
1
predatory
May 31
st
, 2017
Israel
Southern district
1
predatory
May 9
th
, 2015
Syria / Israel
Al Qunaitra
governorate / Northern
district
5
rabid
July 31
st
, 2015
Syria / Israel
Al Qunaitra
governorate /
Northern district
1
presumably rabid
c. November 2016
India
«Indian Himalayas»
1
predatory
March 21
st
, 2016
Mongolia
Ulaanbaatar
2
rabid
January 13
th
, 2015
Kazakhstan
East Kazakhstan
region
1
1*
rabid
December 15
th
, 2016
Kazakhstan
Atyrau region
1
defensive
October 14
th
, 2017
Kazakhstan
West Kazakhstan
region
1
unknown
December 22
nd
, 2015
Kyrgyzstan
Naryn region
2
unknown
January 28
th
, 2016
Kyrgyzstan
Osh region
2
rabid
November 8
th
, 2016
Kyrgyzstan
Naryn region
1
predatory
February 5
th
, 2017
Kyrgyzstan
Issyk-Kul region
2
defensive
March 15
th
, 2017
Kyrgyzstan
Osh region
1
defensive
June 15
th
, 2017
Kyrgyzstan
Jalal-Abad region
1
rabid
November 7
th
, 2017
Kyrgyzstan
Issyk-Kul region
1
rabid
October 23
rd
, 2018
Kyrgyzstan
Batken region
5
rabid
July 1
st
, 2017
Tajikistan
Gorno-Badakhshan
autonomous region
1
predatory

image
ISSN: 1504-3312
ISBN: 978-82-426-4721-4
1944