Wolf attacks on humans
A wolf attack is an attack on a human by a wolf or wolves. Wild wolves are naturally aggressive but are generally cautious enough to occasionally appear timid around humans. Wolves usually try to avoid contact with people, to the point of even abandoning their kills when an approaching human is detected, but there are several reported circumstances in which wolves have been recorded to act aggressively toward humans.
Compared to other carnivorous mammals known to attack humans in general, the frequency with which wolves have been recorded to kill or prey on people is much lower, indicating that though potentially dangerous, wolves are among the least threatening for their size and predatory potential.
Causes and types 
Attacks due to provocation have occurred, usually involving shepherds defending their flocks, though none recorded fatalities. Unprovoked attacks by non-rabid wolves are rare, but have happened. The majority of victims of unprovoked healthy wolves tend to be women and children. Historically, attacks by healthy wolves tended to be clustered in space and time, indicating that human-killing was not a normal behavior for the average wolf, but rather atypical behavior that single wolves or particular packs developed and maintained until they were killed.
Habituation is a known factor contributing to some wolf attacks which result from living close to human habitations, which can cause wolves to lose their fear of humans and consequently approach too closely, much like urban coyotes. Habituation can also happen when people intentionally encourage wolves to come up to them, usually by offering food, or unintentionally, when people do not sufficiently intimidate them. This is corroborated by accounts demonstrating that wolves in protected areas are more likely to show boldness toward humans, than ones in areas where they are actively hunted.
Hybridization among wolves and domestic dogs is thought to result in animals which though possessing the predatory instincts of wolves, show a dog-like lack of timidity toward humans.
The majority of fatal wolf attacks have historically involved rabies, which was first recorded in wolves in the 13th century. Though wolves are not reservoirs for the disease, they can catch it from other species. Wolves develop an exceptionally severe aggressive state when infected and can bite numerous people in a single attack. Before a vaccine was developed, bites were almost always fatal. Today, wolf bites can be treated, but the severity of rabid wolf attacks can sometimes result in outright death, or a bite near the head will make the disease act too fast for the treatment to take effect. Unlike healthy wolves, which typically limit themselves to attacking women or children, attacks by rabid wolves are made at random, with adult men being killed on occasion. Rabid attacks tend to cluster in winter and spring. With the reduction of rabies in Europe and North America, few rabid wolf attacks have been recorded, though some still occur annually in the Middle East. Rabid attacks can be distinguished from predatory attacks by the fact that rabid wolves limit themselves to biting their victims rather than consuming them. Plus, the timespan of predatory attacks can sometimes last for months or years, as opposed to rabid attacks, which usually end after a fortnight. Much like some big cats, old or crippled wolves unable to tackle their normal prey have also been recorded to attack humans.
Patterns and methods 
A recent Fennoscandian study on historic wolf attacks occurring in the 18th–19th centuries showed that victims were almost entirely children under the age of 12, with 85% of the attacks occurring when no adults were present. In the few cases in which an adult was killed, it was almost always a woman. In nearly all cases, only a single victim was injured in each attack, although the victim was with two or three other people in a few cases. This contrasts dramatically with the pattern seen in attacks by rabid wolves, where up to 40 people can be bitten in the same attack. Some recorded attacks occurred over a period of months or even years, making the likelihood of rabies infected perpetrators unlikely, considering that death usually occurs within two to ten days after the initial symptoms. Records from the former Soviet Union show that the largest number of attacks on children occurred in summer during July and August, the period when female wolves begin feeding their cubs solid food. Sharp falls in the frequency of attacks were noted in the Autumn months of September and October, coinciding with drops in temperature which caused most children to remain indoors for longer periods.
People who corner or attack wolves typically receive quick bites to the hands or feet, though the attack is usually not pressed. In both rabid and predatory attacks, victims are usually attacked around the head and neck in a sustained manner, though healthy wolves rarely attack frontally, having been shown to prefer to attack from behind. Some specialized man-eaters have been recorded to kill children by knocking them over from behind and biting the back of their heads and necks. The body of a victim from a healthy wolf attack, is often dragged off and consumed unless disturbed.
Seven stages 
- The first outlined stage is scarcity of wild game, be it due to poaching, habitat loss or seasonal migration.
- Wolves begin approaching human habitations, though limit their visits to nocturnal hours. Their presence is usually established by barking matches with local dogs.
- After a certain amount of time, wolves begin to frequent human habitations in daylight hours, and observe people and livestock at a distance.
- The wolves begin acting bolder by attacking small livestock and pets during daylight, sometimes pursuing their prey up to verandas. At this point the wolves do not focus on humans, but will growl and act threateningly toward them.
- The wolves begin attacking large-bodied livestock and may follow riders, as well as mount verandas and look into windows.
- People begin to be harassed, usually in a playful manner. The wolves will chase people over short distances and nip at them, though will retreat if confronted.
- Wolves begin attacking people in predatory fashions.
In Scotland, during the reign of James VI, wolves were considered such a threat to travelers that special houses called spittals were erected on the highways for protection. In France alone, historical records indicate that between the years 1580-1830, 3,069 people were killed by wolves, 1,857 of which were non-rabid. Italian records indicate that between the 15th-19th centuries, 440 people were killed by wolves in central Po valley. In Imperial Russia 1890, a document was produced stating that 161 people had been killed by wolves in 1871. During the First World War, starving wolves had amassed in great numbers in Kaunas, Vilnius and Minsk and began attacking Imperial Russian and Imperial German fighting forces, causing the two fighting armies to form a temporary truce to fight off the animals.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, those within the new administration discovered documents indicating that several wolf attacks had occurred in villages during the Eastern front. This information was apparently suppressed by the Soviet government in order to hide the consequences of the mass confiscation of firearms during the war.
A hypothesis as to why wolves in Eurasia historically acted more aggressively toward humans than those in North America is that in the past, Old World wolf hunting was mostly an activity for the nobility, whereas American wolf hunts were partaken by ordinary citizens, nearly all of them possessing firearms. This difference could have caused American wolves to be more fearful of humans, making them less willing to venture into settled areas.
Nonetheless, with the exception of one attack on a French shepherd in 2001, modern Western Europe has had very few attacks and no recent fatalities due significantly to the near complete lack of wolves in Western Europe. "Lupus", a German group of wildlife biologists, says it has documented 250 encounters among people and wolves in the Lusatia region and there were no problems in any of the cases.
North America 
Oral histories of Native American tribes indicate they were attacked by wolves on occasion, before the arrival of European settlers. Woodland Indians were usually most at risk, as they would often encounter wolves suddenly, and at close quarters. An old Nunamiut hunter, in an interview with author Barry Lopez, said that wolves used to attack his people, until the introduction of firearms, at which point the attacks ceased.
When settlers began colonizing the continent, they noticed that while local wolves were more numerous than in Europe, they were less aggressive. In Canada, an Ontario newspaper offered a $100 reward for proof of an unprovoked wolf attack on a human. The money was left uncollected. Though Theodore Roosevelt considered the large timber wolves of north-western Montana and Washington equal to Northern European wolves in size and strength, he noted they were nonetheless much shyer around man.
In modern times, as humans begin to encroach on wolf habitats more contacts are being recorded. Often the contact is because the person is walking their pet dog, and the wolf pack considers the dog a prey item, inciting an attack. Retired wolf biologist Mark McNay compiled 80 events in Alaska and Canada where wolves closely approached or attacked people, finding 39 cases of aggression by apparently healthy wolves, and 29 cases of fearless behavior by non-aggressive wolves.
In the 18th century, Japan experienced an outbreak of wolf attacks due to the spread of rabies from China and Korea.
Traditionally, Hindus have refrained from killing even man-eating wolves, due to the superstition even one drop of wolf blood spilled could result in a bad harvest. During a 2-year period (1996–1997) in Uttar Pradesh, wolves killed or seriously injured 74 humans, mostly children under the age of 10. The attacks were well documented by wolf authorities. One of the worst cases ever recorded occurred in 1878 in British India. During a one year period 624 people were killed by man-eating wolves. A series of guidelines on avoidance of wolf attacks were written by Yadvendradev V. Jhala and Dinesh Kumar Sharma, both of the Wildlife Institute of India. Vulnerable-aged children, according to Indian researchers, are those among the ages of 2–10 living in areas where huts are scattered and where vegetation can conceal predators.
List of fatal attacks 
This is a list of known fatal wolf attacks worldwide by century in reverse chronological order.
21st century 
|Name, age, gender||Date||Location, comments|
|30 y/o, female||June 17, 2012|
|An 8-year-old boy and a 64-year-old woman||March 19, 2012||Tengzhou, Shandong Province, China. Several pupils were seriously attacked by a wolf on their way to school, one killed. An old lady was also killed and fed upon by the same wolf while doing farm work. The animal was shot to death that after by Chinese police.|
|Candice Berner, 32, female||March 8, 2010 (discovered)||Berner, a teacher and avid jogger, was found dead along a road near Chignik Lake, Alaska, a village about 475 miles southwest of Anchorage, Alaska. Snowmobilers found her mutilated body with wolf tracks in the adjacent snow. The Alaska State Medical Examiner ruled that her death was caused by "multiple injuries due to animal mauling."|
|Woman||February 10, 2009||Village of Giorgitsminda, about 40 kilometres from Tbilisi, Georgia.|
|8-year old boy||April 6, 2006||Nakhodka, Eastern Russia. Two eight-year-old boys had approached the wolf enclosure in the Nakhodka Zoo, with one boy stretching out his hand to stroke the animals. One wolf bit the boy, and another seized hold of his leg. Although the child escaped, he was found dead early next morning.|
|Kenton Joel Carnegie, 22, male||November 8, 2005||Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Carnegie had gone for a walk and didn't return to the surveyors' camp where he was working. His body was found partially consumed in an area known to be frequented by four wolves which regularly fed on human refuse. The pathologist who performed the autopsy, testified Carnegie had lost about 25% to 30% of his body mass in the attack, with the top midsection to the thigh having been partially consumed. Although originally the possibility that the culprit was an American Black Bear was not ruled out, a coroners' jury concluded after a two-year inquiry that the attackers had indeed been wolves.|
|Two people||2005||Khost province, Afghanistan. Occurred during what was considered the worst Afghan Winter in over a decade.|
|Four people||2005||Naka, Paktia province, Afghanistan. Two victims were killed during trips to other villages.|
|Two people||Early February, 2005||Muinak district, western Uzbekistan.|
|Homeless man||January 2, 2005||Village of Vali-Asr, near the town of Torbat Heydariya, northeastern Iran. Wolves entering the village seeking refuge from harsh weather attacked an elderly homeless man in front of witnesses. Those witnessing the incident attempted to fight off the wolves, while waiting for police assistance. Police intervention never came, and the victim died.|
|Three people||Winter, 2003||Astrakhan Oblast, Russia.|
|Three shepherds||Winter, 2003||Sredneakhtubinsky District, Russia.|
20th century 
|Name, age, gender||Date||Location, comments|
|Anand Kumar, 4, male||1996||Banbirpur, India. The wolf attacked Kumar while he, his two siblings and his mother were using the open ground for their toilet. When a police search party found the boy three days later, half a mile away, all that remained of the body was the head.|
|60 mostly prepubescent children||1996–1997||Uttar Pradesh, India.|
|Patricia Wyman, 24, female||April 18, 1996||Haliburton, Ontario. Ms. Wyman had been hired as a new caretaker of the wolves at the Haliburton forest and wildlife preserve. The 5 wolves involved in the attack had been raised in captivity all their lives, but had never been socialized with humans.|
|Michael Amosov, 60, male||February 21, 1996||Hamlet of Bolonitza, Zadrach, Belarus. Amosov disappeared while walking to Bolonitza from Zadrach through a forest. A search party followed his tracks and found an area of churned, bloodied snow surrounded by multiple wolf tracks.|
|Woodcutter, 55, male||December, 1995||Hvoschono, Belarus. Disappeared while working in a nearby forest. Two days later, a search party found his remains surrounded by wolf tracks.|
|9-year old schoolgirl||December, 1995||Usviatyda, Belarus. Disappeared while walking home from school. Her father searched for her and found her head surrounded by bloodied snow covered in wolf tracks.|
|Unidentified female||October, 1995||Village south of Voronezh, Russia. The woman was working on a cornfield, when a rabid female wolf attacked and bit her throat.|
|Unidentified person||1995||Russian part of Karelia.|
|60 children||April 1993-April 1995||Bihar State, India. All the children were taken from settlements primarily during March to August between 17.00 and 19.00 hrs. There were more female victims (58%) than males and 89% were 3-11-yrs old. Of the 80 child casualties, only 20 were rescued.|
|Alyshia Berzyck, 3, female||June 3, 1989||Minnesota. Killed by a pet wolf on a chain.|
|17 prepubescent children||1986||Ashta, India. Known as the Wolves of Ashta.|
|Unidentified woman||June 29, 1982||Near Dubrovna, Belarus. Bitten to death on the face, arms and legs by a rabid wolf.|
|13 children, aged 4–10 years||February–August 1981||Hazaribagh in the eastern Indian district of Bihar. Known as the Wolves of Hazaribagh.|
|Child, 2, male||1981||Ft. Wayne, Michigan. Lone wolf kept as a pet.|
|Elderly woman||Late August, 1979||Death occurred in Sinezerka.|
|Unknown child||1978||Wheatland, Wyoming. Lone wolf kept as a pet.|
|B. Mashakova||March 30, 1972||Chelkarskij region, Kazakhstan. Rabid wolf.|
|Vitali Ushtinov, 5 years old||July 11, 1952||1 km from Village of Karmanov. Vitali was attacked while picking berries and dragged into the forest.|
|10-year old girl||April 29, 1951||Near the village of Tarasovok, Orichevskij region. The girl was killed by a wolf while bathing in a creek with a friend.|
|1 boy and 3 girls aged 3–6 years||July–August, 1950||Lebyazhskij region.|
|Svetlana Tueva||November 17, 1948||Unspecified Soviet province. Svetlana was attacked by five wolves when she and her friends were walking home from school. The wolves dragged her a kilometre into the forest. All that was found was an overcoat.|
|9 children aged 7–12 years||July–August 1948||Darovskij region.|
|Veniamina Fokina, 13 years old||1947||Village of Rusanov, Khalturinskij region.|
|Anna Mikheeva, 16 years old||1947||Village of Chernyabevij, Khalturinskij region. Wolves attacked Anna and her mother, killing the former and dragging her into a forest. She was found partially eaten and with a broken neck.|
|Pimma Molchanova, 5 years old||May 8, 1945||Village of Shilyavo, Kirovskaya Oblast, Russia. Pimma was washing goloshas in a stream with a 7-year old friend, when a wolf caught her and her friend's screaming alerted the villagers. Her body was found 500 metres away. The wolf had bitten through her throat and eaten her thigh muscles.|
|Maria Berdnikova, 17 years old||29 April 1945||Village of Golodaevshchina, Kirovskaya Oblast. Maria and her sister were working 50 metres from a cattle yard near a mansion. The wolf grabbed her by the throat and carried her off, followed by peasants. The wolf scaled a 1-metre fence and dropped its victim 200 metres into the forest.|
|36 children||1944-63||Kirov region, Russia.|
|Maria Polyakova, 16 years old||November 19, 1944||B. Ramenskij, Kirovskaya Oblast. Two wolves killed her while on the way to work.|
|Musinova Tamara, 14 years old||November 12, 1944||Kirovskaya Oblast. Nine wolves involved.|
|Perfilova, 8 years old||November 6, 1944||Kirovskaya Oblast. Killed and eaten by a wolf pack on the road to a collective farm.|
|Valya Starikova, 13 years old||September 21, 1944||Village of Goldaevshchina, Kirovskaya Oblast. The wolf carried her into a forest. Only pieces of her shoes were found.|
|95 people||1926||Districts of Bareilly and Pilibhit, United Provinces, India.|
|10 people||1924||Kirov. Perpetrators were two rabid wolves.|
|Trapper and two Natives||1922||Ontario. When a trapper did not return to the post office as promised, two natives were sent to find him. All three were killed by wolves.|
|Ben Cochrum||1922||Manitoba. North of Fisher river on Lake Winnipeg. The victim's bones were found among the remains of 11 wolves. Seven had been shot and four had been clubbed to death. Only after his rifle stock was smashed did the trapper apparently cease to fight and succumb to the wolf pack.|
|WWI, Numerous soldiers on Eastern Front||1916 - 1917||Kaunas, Vilnius and Minsk. During the Winter of 1916—1917, starving wolves had amassed in great numbers near Kaunas, Vilnius and Minsk and began attacking Imperial Russian and Imperial German fighting forces. This caused the two armies to negotiate a truce to fight off the animals.|
|James Smith||March 4, 1910||near Springfield, MO. Wolves attacked him while he was alone in the woods, waiting for the return of his brother. When the sibling returned he found his brother's bones. In the center of a circle of five dead wolves, was an empty repeating rifle, showing that he had been overpowered before he could reload his gun.|
19th century 
|Name, age, gender||Date||Location, Comments|
|203 people||1889||European sector of Russian Empire.|
|Father and son, family name Olson||March 7, 1888||New Rockford, North Dakota. The two men started towards a haystack a few yards from the house to shovel a path around the stack when they were surrounded by a pack and devoured alive.|
|1445 people||1870–1887||European sector of Russian Empire.|
|22 children||1880–1881||Turku, Southwest Finland. Three wolves involved. In January, 1882, a female wolf was shot and 12 days later a male wolf poisoned, which brought the attacks to an end. Finnish conservation groups, such as the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation, claimed the animals were wolf-dog hybrids. An examination of the taxidermied specimens showed that they were pure wolves.|
|8-year old boy||1880||Uusikirkko, Karelia.|
|624 people||1878||British India.|
|9 children||1877||Tampere, Southwest Finland. More than one wolf involved.|
|721 people||1875||North-Western Province and Bihar State, British India.|
|161 people||1871||Imperial Russia. The document stating this however, was produced in 1890.|
|12-year old girl||1859||Lapijoki village, Eurajoki, Southwest Finland. The girl was the daughter of the peasant Johan Rask. Only few remains were found from the dead girl. The wolf tried to attack a farmer in the same area a few days later, but the farmer managed to kill the wolf with his rifle.|
|14 people||1851||Lorges Forest, France. A rabid wolf ran amok for 45 kilometres (28 mi) in seven hours, through nine villages, biting 41 people of whom 14 subsequently died of rabies. The wolf also bit nearly 100 animals and many presumably died from rabies too.|
|266 adults, 110 children||1849–1851||European sector of Russian Empire.|
|20 children, one adult||1839–1850||Karelia. Unknown number of wolves.|
|3 children||1836||Kemiö, Southwest Finland. More than one wolf involved.|
|13 people||July 1833||Green River, western Wyoming, perpetrated by a rabid white wolf.|
|8 children, 1 woman||January 1831, Summer 1832||Karelia. Thought to have been a single animal.|
|Unknown African American, male||1830||Kentucky, near the Ohio border. While traveling through a heavily forested area, two African Americans were attacked by a pack of wolves. Using their axes, they attempted to fight off the wolves. Both men were knocked to the ground and severely wounded. One man was killed. The other dropped his axe and escaped up a tree. There he spent the night. The next morning the man climbed down from the tree. The bones of his friend lay scattered on the snow. Three wolves lay dead.|
|Innuit woman||1829||Strangled by a wolf as her husband rushed to her assistance.|
|Aleksei Moiseev, 8 years old||1823||Village of Alakurskij. Aleksei went outside his village with some friends and was attacked by a lone wolf. Peasants intervened too late.|
|Petr Pitka, 3 years old||May, 1823||Village of Bolshie, Tuganitsy. The boy left his hut with his sister at dinner time. His four-year-old sister returned home, saying that her brother had been carried off by a wolf. His remains were discovered on June 2, in a haymaking field outside the village.|
|Lone French Traveler||1811||Bitten by a wolf on the road to Toulon, arrived at a way-station and shortly thereafter expired from a severe wound to the leg. His body disappeared later that evening before the coroners could arrive and examine it. It was almost a month before another, non fatal attack occurred on the open stretch of road, but further attacks occurred along the stretch of road for a number of years thereafter following an almost monthly pattern.|
|11 children between 3.5–15 years of age and one 19 year old woman||30 December 1820, 27 March 1821||Border between Dalarna and Gästrikland. The wolf had been captured as a pup and raised in captivity for 3–4 years, before released prior to the attacks. Known as the Wolf of Gysinge.|
|111 people||1804–1853||Non rabid wolves killed 111 people in Estonia, of which 108 were children, 2 were men and 1 woman.|
|6-8 year old girl||28 December 1800||Akershus county, Southern Norway.|
18th century 
|Name, age, gender||Date||Location, Comments|
|Sick Native Americans||1770||Wolves entered Indian camps to eat corpses of smallpox victims. They also attacked and killed the sick.|
|Ninety-nine people||1763–1767||Gévaudan, Auvergne, Languedoc; France. Beast of Gévaudan and whelps.|
|Four people||January, 1765||Soissons northeast of Paris. Known as the Wolf of Soissons.|
|Nils Nisson, 8, male||January, 1763||Hova Parish, Vastergotland County, Sweden. Lone wolf.|
|Farmer named Shōzaemon||February 1762||Japan. Killed a rabid wolf in self-defense, but died 2 months later from the disease.|
|8 people||1750||Yuatsumi village, Japan. Perpetrators were 3 rabid wolves.|
|Borta Johansdotter, 12, female||3 August 1731||Steneby parish, Dalsland County, Sweden.|
|Jon Ersson, 9, male||6 January 1728||Boda Parish, Varmland County, Sweden. Probably killed by same wolf as below.|
|Jon Svensson, 4.5, male||17 December 1727||Boda Parish, Varmland County, Sweden. Mauled and partially eaten by lone wolf.|
|Annunciata Maria Almasio, 7, female||September 9, 1705||Rebaù, Gorla Maggiore, Northern Italy.|
|Maria Campascina, 65, female||August 28, 1705||Viggiù, Northern Italy.|
|Anna Maria, 9, female||March, 1705||Viggiù, Northern Italy.|
|Six-year old child||September 17, 1704||Gorla Maggiore, Northern Italy.|
|16 people||1704||Varesotto, Northern Italy.|
Pre-18th century 
|Name, age, gender||Date||Location, Comments|
|40 people||Winter, 1450||Paris, France. Known as the Wolves of Paris.|
|3 women||957||Gakkan', Hokucho, Japan.|
|1 person||886||Kamo Shrine, Japan.|
|13-year old child||851||Japan. The attack occurred within the house of a Shinto priest.|
See also 
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- Church records of Arsunda, Garpenberg, Osterfarnebo, By, Hedesunda and Husby parishes.
- Thompson, Richard H. (1991). Wolf-Hunting in France in the Reign of Louis XV: The Beast of the Gévaudan. p. 367. ISBN 0-88946-746-3.
- There was never any investigation by the local authorities, as stipulated in the law. The child may have been attacked by a dog. Church record, Hova parish, Sweden, F:1.
- There was never any investigation by the local authorities, as stipulated in the law. Church record, Steneby parish, Sweden, C:2 p.354.
- There was never any investigation by the local authorities, as stipulated in the law. The child may have been lost in the woods and frozen to death, and then been eaten by other animals. Church record, Boda parish, Sweden, E:1 p.225.
- Deaths caused by wolves in Lombardy and Eastern Piedmont in the XVIII century[dead link]
The Lost Wolves *of Japan
- The Fear of Wolves: A Review of Wolf Attacks on Humans
- A Case History of Wolf-Human Encounters in Alaska and Canada
- When do Wolves become Dangerous to Humans?
- Child Lifting: Wolves in Hazaribagh, India
- “The Danger of Wolves to Humans” by Mikhail P. Pavlov (pp 136-169) (Translated from Russian by Valentina and Leonid Baskin, and Patrick Valkenburg. Edited by Patrick Valkenburg and Mark McNay)
- Deaths caused by wolves in Lombardy and Eastern Piedmont in the XVIII century
- Documented Wolf Attacks