FYI: There is a big study on historic wolf attacks

This is nothing new, but most people don’t know about it-

Wolf attack numbers and details are always controversial, and much of the information people find is very poor.  This is one large study on-line (pdf), however, that is often missed.  It dates from 2002.  It is The Fear of Wolves: A review of wolf attacks on humans. It was done in Norway, but covers the entire earth.

I am reposting it because of the frequency of this question. If it is posted in more locations, it will also show up more in search engines.






  1. Lisa Avatar

    As Ralph mentions, the data on this topic are highly variable and fragmented, often questioned by study authors themselves.
    The other significant study on wolf-human conflicts is: A case history of wolf-human encounters in Alaska and Canada by Mark E. McNay, an Alaska DFG Wildlife Technical Bulletin from 2002.

    McNay reviewed 80 wolf-human encounters in which wolves have shown little fear towards humans that go back to 1942 (though most are since 1980). He reported no fatalities (the fatalities in Saskatchewan and Alaska allegedly attributable to wolves came after this study). Of his 80 case studies, 39 involve healthy wolves, 12 rabid wolves, ad 29 involve fearless behavior of non-aggressive wolves. In 16 cases, wolves bit people, 6 were severe.

    The NINA (Norway) report states that wolf attacks are typically associated with rabies, and after rabies — habituation, provocation, or highly modified environments. The authors conclude (2002) that there are no known fatalities from predator attacks in North America during the 20th century, but that there are eight well-documented attacks (mainly in protected areas) where non-rabid wolves have injured people during that last 20 years.

    I hate to throw out Wikipedia as a source for anything, really, but there is some interesting reading here (take it with a grain of salt):

    Interestingly, from 1979 through 1996, domestic dog attacks resulted in more than 300 human dog bite-related fatalities in the United States, and since 2007, the annual average is about 30 and rising. The CDC reports almost one million dog bites each year require medical attention.

    Of course, fear of wolf attacks isn’t about wolf attacks, it’s about control — control of public lands and management, and the attempt to control that which is bigger than us, wild lands and wild animals, nature, mystery — the kind of “fear” we need more of.

  2. Taz Alago Avatar
    Taz Alago

    Pleased to get that. Thanks.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

Subscribe to get new posts right in your Inbox

Ralph Maughan