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Big bad wolf or man’s best friend? Unmasking a false wolf aggression on humans

  • Author Footnotes
    1 Contributed equally to this work.
    R. Caniglia
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author at: Laboratorio di Genetica, Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale (ISPRA), Via Ca` Fornacetta 9, 40064. Ozzano dell’Emilia, Bologna, Italy.
    Footnotes
    1 Contributed equally to this work.
    Affiliations
    Laboratorio di Genetica, Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale (ISPRA), Ozzano dell’Emilia, Bologna, Italy
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  • Author Footnotes
    1 Contributed equally to this work.
    M. Galaverni
    Footnotes
    1 Contributed equally to this work.
    Affiliations
    Laboratorio di Genetica, Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale (ISPRA), Ozzano dell’Emilia, Bologna, Italy
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  • M. Delogu
    Affiliations
    Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences, University of Bologna, Ozzano dell’Emilia, Bologna, Italy
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  • E. Fabbri
    Affiliations
    Laboratorio di Genetica, Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale (ISPRA), Ozzano dell’Emilia, Bologna, Italy
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  • C. Musto
    Affiliations
    Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences, University of Bologna, Ozzano dell’Emilia, Bologna, Italy
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  • E. Randi
    Affiliations
    Laboratorio di Genetica, Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale (ISPRA), Ozzano dell’Emilia, Bologna, Italy

    Aalborg University, Department 18/Section of Environmental Engineering, Aalborg, Denmark
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  • Author Footnotes
    1 Contributed equally to this work.

      Abstract

      The return of the wolf in its historical range is raising social conflicts with local communities for the perceived potential threat to people safety. In this study we applied molecular methods to solve an unusual case of wolf attack towards a man in the Northern Italian Apennines. We analysed seven biological samples, collected from the clothes of the injured man, using mtDNA sequences, the Amelogenin gene, 39 unlinked autosomal and four Y-linked microsatellites. Results indicated that the aggression was conducted by a male dog and not by a wolf nor a wolf x dog hybrid. Our findings were later confirmed by the victim, who confessed he had been attacked by the guard dog of a neighbour. The genetic profile of the owned dog perfectly matched with that identified from the samples previously collected. Our results prove once again that the wolf does not currently represent a risk for human safety in developed countries, whereas most animal aggressions are carried out by its domestic relative, the dog.

      Keywords

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