Oregon wildlife managers say they’re evaluating evidence collected from a man who claims to have been attacked by a wolf near Gold Hill earlier this week, but have been unable to gain permission from the private landowner to access the site of the incident to investigate more fully.
“Without the ability to collect critical and timely evidence from the attack scene, confirming what animal attacked the victim may not be possible,” said spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy in a text message this evening.
A brief video and hospital-bed photos posted by Josh Trautman to Facebook show a bloodied man with what appears to be a belt used for a tourniquet attached to his upper left arm as well as numerous stitched lacerations on the same arm. A hunter, Trautman warned mushroomers to beware and was adamant he’d been attacked by a wolf.
“Evidence collected from the victim is being evaluated,” said Dennehy, who declined to elaborate further about the nature of the evidence.
She said ODFW “is working with law enforcement and other agencies to investigate the incident, following our standard procedure when an animal attack is reported.”
Gold Hill is along I-5 between Grants Pass and Medford. The closest known wolves are the Rogue Pack to the northeast of Medford.
Wildlife managers initially termed the area a “poor location” for wolves given nearby highways and populated areas, but also said being able to quickly access the site would be “one of the key factors in helping inform what may have transpired leading up to, and during, an attack.”
“ODFW and other agencies have been unable to gain permission from the landowner to gain access to the private lands where this attack was reported to have occurred,” Dennehy said.
Wolf attacks on humans are “extremely rare,” said ODFW, which adds wolves and other large predators typically avoid people, though two people have been killed by cougars in the Northwest the past decade and there were two bear attacks last year. Wolf attacks that have occurred have involved human-habituated wolves, like the deaths of a Canadian man and an Alaskan woman, or people with dogs, or sick wolves, said the agency. The greatest threat from canines comes from domestic dogs. Some people also own wolf hybrids; this area in particular is known for illegal marijuana farms.
“They are extremely timid and shy as a species. Of all the large animals, anything larger than a coyote in Yellowstone, wolves are actually the one I’m concerned about the very least,” wolf researcher Kira Cassidy told OL reporter Katie Hill. “They’re at the bottom of that list of dangerous animals on the landscape. They’re even afraid of our camera traps.”
What happened in Southern Oregon is still being investigated, but it has left a man scarred for life.
“We wish the victim a speedy recovery,” Dennehy said.