SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. A lone black wolf that attacked six people, including several young children, in a provincial park over the long weekend has tested negative for rabies, the Algoma Health Unit said Wednesday.
The remains of the wolf, which has been blamed for several separate attacks Monday at the popular Katherine's Cove beach on Lake Superior, was tested for rabies and other diseases after it was shot by park staff.
The wolf had suffered a broken clavicle and tooth when it was shot following the attacks, which may explain its abnormal behaviour, said health unit inspector Bob Frattini.
Wolves work in packs and not individually, and it was probably ostracized, Mr. Frattini said.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency plans to conduct further testing on the wolf's body to try and find other possible causes for the attacks, which left several families injured and badly shaken.
Emily Wright, 14, was among the half-dozen people who were attacked by the wolf at the beach at Lake Superior Provincial Park.
The little girl, who received about 15 stitches to her arm and more to her face and ear, fought off the wolf after it ripped into brother Casey's buttock and tore the hands and leg of her mother, Brenda.
The following day, all six of those who were injured were forced to endure numerous needles a precaution against rabies.
The shot wasn't that bad, Emily said. After, it hurt a little bit.
Before it was shot, the wolf attacked another couple at the north end of the beach. Then it clamped its jaws around three-year-old Leah Talbot's left upper arm and began dragging her away from her grandmother and sister.
Ministry of Natural Resources officials say no one has ever been killed by a wolf in North America, and instances in Canada in which wolves have bitten people are rare indeed.
Although there are high populations in Ontario, it's rare you do actually see a wolf, said ministry spokesperson Melanie Dufresne.
Some wolves become habituated to people through over-exposure, but it's a rare one who won't run at the sight or sound of a human, she said. They're so fearful of humans.
In the event a wolf doesn't turn tail and run, Ms. Dufresne suggests standing one's ground and trying to scare it off.
Obviously, if it's not scared, make yourself known to be human, make noise, she said. You don't want to run. Slowly back away and take refuge in a car or cabin.
Wolves can't climb trees, she added.
Emily, who's getting a little bit tired of the constant media attention that followed the attack, used Wednesday to catch up on her rest.
I didn't go to school today, she said. I needed sleep so I stayed home today.