Wolf gashes Alaska trapper riding on snowmobile

FAIRBANKS — An Alaska trapper fought off a wolf that lunged and bit into his arm as he drove his snowmobile down a frozen creek.

Lance Grangaard, 30, of Tok suffered a 3-inch wound to his arm and will be treated for rabies as a precaution after the attack Thursday about 30 miles from Taylor Highway in eastern interior Alaska.

Grangaard told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in a story Monday that he was “putting along” on his snowmobile when he saw the wolf out of the corner of his eye.

“I turned in time to stick my arm up,” Grangaard said. “A single black wolf grabbed my arm and started jerking on me ... I made a big jump and managed to get on its back.”

Man and the wolf slammed down on the ice.

“He let out a yelp and bucked me off,” Grangaard said. “He ran off 15 or 20 feet and he turned around. I screamed at him and raised my arms and he took off.”

The wolf’s canine teeth ripped through Grangaard’s parka sleeve and three layers of clothing.

The attack lasted only a few seconds, but Grangaard feared the wolf would attack again. He got back on the snowmobile and found his father Danny Grangaard, who was checking a trapline about six miles away.

“I think I spent as much time looking over my shoulder as I was looking forward,” Grangaard said. “When I finally got to the old man I was so relieved. I was still pretty scared.”

Danny Grangaard, an experienced wolf trapper and former technician for the Department of Fish and Game, said his son had tears in his eyes,

“He thought the wolf was still chasing him,” the elder Grangaard said.

Lance Grangaard described his wound as superficial, a scratch he and his father washed out with whiskey and baby wipes.

The state has confirmed 19 cases of rabies in Alaska wolves since testing began in 1971, but all were in northern or western Alaska.

The state in the past four years has tested more than 100 wolves killed in the upper Tanana and Yukon river regions and none were positive for rabies.

State veterinarian Kimberlee Beckmen said the behavior of the wolf that attacked Grangaard was suspicious.

“When a wolf attacks somebody, it’s either because it’s food-conditioned, rabid or is starving,” Beckmen said. “Based on its location, this animal is very unlikely to be food-conditioned, so that elevates the chance of it being rabid.”

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