Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Wildlife experts doubt account of wolf attack
Manitoba Conservation probing woman's story
The bizarre account of a wolf attack on a Manitoba highway has experts scratching their heads as they piece together how the victim got away.
Wolf experts are skeptical of the woman's account as it was broadcast on television and published prominently in the National Post newspaper on Wednesday.
"Despite the obvious scratch marks on her neck, I am very dubious about the details of the attack. Something happened, but the story appears to be contrived," said Paul Paquet, an adjunct professor of biology and associate professor of environmental design at the University of Calgary. He co-edited the book Wolves of the World: Perspectives of Behavior, Ecology and Conservation, a best-seller viewed as an essential source of information on wolves.
Dawn Hepp told news media this week a wolf attacked her when she stopped to help another motorist by the side of Highway 6 on March 8.
It was near a lonely stretch of road close to Grand Rapids, 400 kilometres north of Winnipeg, and she spotted a timber wolf in the distance but didn't think anything of it and walked to the other car, she said.
"As I turned my back, all of a sudden this wolf jumped me and all I could feel was fur on my face and jaws around my neck...," Hepp told the National Post. She kept surprisingly calm, as experts advise during such an attack.
"He dug deeper with his teeth. I had my coat on, and so when he went to get a better grip, he let go and then I gave him a look," Hepp said.
She said the wolf, which was 6-2 and 200 pounds, dropped to the ground but didn't go away.
The animal trailed her back to her truck, she said. "He was on my heels, almost smiling at me. He looked like he wanted to come for a ride."
She managed to get into her truck and take off, but not before stopping to tell the motorist she had to leave.
Then she drove three hours south to the hospital in Ashern.
Hepp said the wolf was so close she was eye to eye with it. It had green eyes, she recalled.
She could not be reached for comment Wednesday night for her reaction to the wolf experts who doubt her details of the attack.
In Manitoba, wildlife biologists estimate there are 4,000 wolves, but this would be the first attack on a human in recent memory.
Manitoba Conservation is investigating Hepp's account and is asking experts outside the province what they make of it.
"As a matter of fact, in the 25-plus years of my career, this is the first encounter where a person has been attacked,'' said Ken Rebizant, the big-game manager in the wildlife branch of Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship. "For the most part, wolves avoid people. When you see a wolf, they normally run away from you."
Wolves tend to run in packs, but there have been cases of attacks by lone wolves.
Sick, weak, injured or protecting a kill could trigger an attack, but in the past 25 years, there have been just five such accounts from Algonquin Park in Ontario, one in Alaska and one on Vancouver Island. The last two involved wolf bites, but none of the attacks killed anybody.
Manitoba Conservation hopes the motorist who witnessed the attack on Hepp will call the wildlife branch.
As for the colour of a wolf's eyes, it's usually yellowish-brown or greyish, the experts say.
"The story is most interesting," said one expert, who would only speak anonymously. "She also said on TV it followed her to her vehicle -- how did she get it off her throat? That is what she did not say. Very strange, for sure. What is also of interest: She says it was 6 foot 2 inches. Wonder how she had time to measure?"
Added a second expert, "I believe the woman, but where was the statement from the witness whose car she stopped to help? Why didn't the wolf tear the woman's throat out? The wounds are real, but very superficial and small for a wolf."
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 21, 2013 A6
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
(1 of 50 articles for this week)4:34 PM 0
Photo Store Gallery
- Man, 45, missing since Monday
- Break-in on top of her grieving
- Synagogue serves up some Christmas meals and cheer
- RCMP charge more than dozen impaired drivers
- Warm temperatures in Manitoba for Christmas
- Guests welcomed with open arms at Christmas Feast in the West End
- Other alleged victims for therapist charged with assault
- Openings, closings over the Christmas week
- For some First Nations people, like Tina Fontaine’s family, grieving is part of the yuletide season
- No charges laid in fatal collision
- MTS says services have been restored
- Winnipeg trucker dies in semi-truck collision
- New Transcona Boulevard offically opens today
- Remains may be decade old
- Break-in on top of her grieving
- Infant remains in locker may be decade old: Brodsky
- Police seek driver after pickup truck hits pedestrian
- No charges laid against man who killed teen mugger
- Oswald officially enters NDP leadership race; promises an "alternative vision"
- Police continue to seek info on driver; hit-and-run proves fatal
- Slain man leaves behind nine children
- Trucking firm in mourning after driver killed in crash
- Teacher pulled from classroom
- 'Fun party for two' ends in tragedy
- Photos released of suspects in coat heist
- RCMP investigate allegations of doctored invoices, improper payment
- Semi driver dies in collision at Lagimodiere, Dugald
- Twelve arrested, including former city council candidate; weapons and drugs
- Keep car windows clear or face fine: police
- Selby among victims of debit card-skimming scam
Ads by Google