Wolf involved in rare Banff National Park attack was old and in poor condition

LAKE LOUISE — A wolf that attacked a man in a tent at a campground in Banff National Park last week was an older animal in poor health.

Parks Canada said the wolf attacked the man early Friday morning at the Rampart Creek campground on the Icefields Parkway north of Lake Louise.

“He had been camping with his wife and two children and around midnight sometime he heard noises around the campsite,” said Jon Stuart-Smith, a human-wildlife conflict specialist.

“He tried to scare it off by just making some noise from inside the tent, thinking it might be a bear. He poked the side of his tent and that’s when the wolf bit him through the tent.”

He said the wolf then repeatedly bit the man’s hands and arms, ripping the tent and started to pull the man out of it.

“A neighbouring camper heard the noise, ran over and saw the wolf pulling the man out of his tent, kicked the wolf and that’s when the wolf let go,” said Stuart-Smith.

They then got into a vehicle and drove to Saskatchewan Crossing and called for help, he said.

The man had injuries to his hand and arm and was transferred to a hospital in Banff.

A social media post by the wife of the man — who are from New Jersey — said “it was like something out of a horror movie.”

The woman said her husband threw himself in front of her and the children and fought the wolf as it ripped apart the tent. She called her husband their hero.

The family, however, could not be reached to confirm the posting or provide further comment.

Stuart-Smith said a wildlife officer found the wolf about a kilometre away from the campground and killed it after he got out of his vehicle and it started to approach him.

“It’s very unusual behaviour,” he said.

The results of a necropsy confirmed that the wolf was the same one involved in the attack.

“The animal was in very poor health — it was very emaciated, it was only 78 pounds (35 kgs), whereas an adult male wolf could be 150 pounds (68 kgs) or more,” said Stuart-Smith. “Its teeth were very worn.”

A rabies test on the animal was negative, he added.

He said the condition of the wolf could explain why it was aggressive, but stressed that wolf attacks are extremely rare.

Stuart-Smith said the family did everything right.

“They had no attractants in their tent. They were very bear aware so they were very careful to manage their campsite properly,” he said.

“They did follow what our recommendations would be in a … rare situation where someone is attacked by a wolf: to fight back.”

The campground, which was closed immediately following the attack, reopened Monday.

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