The wolf that was the likely culprit in an attack on a teenager in northern Minnesota had abnormalities in its jaw that would have made it difficult to capture and kill prey, state officials said.
The 75-pound wolf was captured and killed on Monday morning following the attack early Saturday morning at the West Winnie Campground on the shores of Lake Winnibigoshish.
The animal is being tested for rabies, and officials hope to confirm that it was the wolf that bit the 16-year-old boy, said Tom Provost, regional manager of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' enforcement division. The boy was treated for a cut on his head and puncture wounds on his face.
Provost said that the wolf's jaw was deformed, and it was missing one if its primary canine teeth.
"There is a thought that if it was the offending animal, that it was struggling to feed itself in the normal wolf manner," Provost said. "It would have really struggled with capturing and killing prey."
Such a wolf might also have been rejected by its pack, Provost said. The wolf that was captured was likely an opportunistic feeder -- initial analysis of the wolf's gut showed it had eaten fish that had likely washed up on the lake's shoreline, he said.
"This gentleman was laying right next to the shoreline," Provost said. "We're thinking right now that if this was the offending animal, he was reacting in an opportunistic manner."
The attack was the first documented wolf attack ever in the state, the DNR said. Provost said the attack was unprovoked, but in general DNR officials recommend people secure food that might attract bears, wolves and other wildlife.
"It likely associated the campground with the opportunity to grab a free meal," Provost said.