Questions about wolves

Do wolves attack people?

Answer: In the past 100 years, there have been only two incidents in North America, in 2005 and 2010, where wolves have allegedly killed a human being.  In comparison to deaths caused by other large carnivores, this is an extremely rare rate of occurrence.  Wolves usually have a natural fear of people that is only eroded when they learn to associate humans and human settlement with opportunities to find food.  Importantly, both of these fatalities took place near illegal garbage dumps that attract a host of scavenging carnivores other than wolves, including bears and coyotes.  

In both cases, there is controversy as to whether or not wolves were the perpetrators. In the first incident, according to their reports, the coroner, the forensic anthropologist and the principal scientific investigator all were unable to determine whether a bear or wolves were responsible for the attack, since signs of both animals were found. In the second incident, in Alaska, the victim was a small woman, 4’11”, who was new to the area.  She was running alone later in the day, in stormy, dark weather, along the garbage dump road outside of town, with music buds in her ears. This would not be safe in any area where wild animals hunt in those conditions and at that time of day.

Wolves are large predatory animals capable of bringing down much larger prey. It wouldn’t be sensible to assume that under no circumstances could they be dangerous to people.  However, in North America, such incidents prove to be exceedingly rare.  To put this into context, in North America, since 1990, bears (black and grizzly) killed 59 people and cougars killed 11. In the U.S., domestic dogs kill 20 to 30 people every year. And hunters kill nearly 100 people in the U.S. and Canada every year and injure around 1,000.


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