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Wolf attack mystifies scientists

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — A 23-year-old kayaker is in the hospital with a deep gash to his scalp after a highly unusual wolf attack off Vancouver Island that has mystified scientists across Canada.

Scott Langevin was set upon by the wolf Sunday morning while he slept under the stars at a beach campsite on Vargas Island.

Langevin told rescuers he was awakened by something pulling at his sleeping bag. When he saw it was a wolf, Langevin covered his head with his arms and tried to roll away, but the wolf clamped its jaws around his hand. Soon the animal was gnawing at Langevin's head.

Eventually, Langevin's screams awakened his fellow campers, who were in nearby tents, and they scared the animal off.

Scientists said the attack was unheard-of, and some found it hard to believe.

"I can say with great, great, great confidence that this is an extremely unusual occurrence," said Monte Hummel, president of the World Wildlife Fund Canada.

Hummel said there never has been a documented case in Canada of a healthy wild wolf attacking a human.

That statement gets challenged periodically with anecdotal evidence from the wilderness, Hummel said, but when the stories get probed further, they often fall apart.

In 1996, a group of timber wolves that were bred in captivity in a wildlife reserve near Haliburton, Ontario, killed a 24-year-old female employee.

The attack on Langevin was witnessed by several of his camping companions. In addition, one of his rescuers gathered wolf hairs from the victim's sleeping bag, to assist in identifying the animal.

Lagevin was rescued within minutes of the attack by a pair of boaters who overheard a radio call for help early Sunday from the campsite to the Canadian Coast Guard.

Dave LeBlanc and Doug Leys jumped in a Zodiak boat and sped to Vargas Island in the dark.

LeBlanc said Langevin was bleeding "horrifically" from his scalp and unable to stand when he and Leys finally reached the campsite.