Mother Booked After Son, 2, Loses Arm to Family's Pet Wolves

Times Staff Writer

An Idyllwild mother has been arrested on suspicion of child endangerment after pet wolves kept by the woman and her husband bit off the arm of their 2-year-old son, authorities said.

A spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Game said the boy, Christopher Nimitz, was reported to be "recovering fine" from the attack, which occurred on Friday. He said the two wolves may have been kept to guard a marijuana patch.

Christopher was flown by helicopter Friday afternoon to Loma Linda University Medical Center shortly after his mother, Linda L. Nimitz, 26, and a neighbor notified the Idyllwild Fire Department that the boy had been attacked by the animals.

In accordance with a request by the boy's parents, hospital officials refused to disclose information about his condition. Spokesman Pat Moore of the Fish and Game Department said, however, that a doctor who treated the boy reported that he was "recovering fine."

Moore also said the department plans to file three charges this week in Mt. San Jacinto Municipal Court in Hemet against Nimitz and her husband, Wayne L. Nimitz, 30, related to the importation, transportation and possession of what are believed to be North American timber wolves.

Other Charges Studied

Each of the three charges carries a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine, six months in jail or both, Moore said.

Meanwhile, Riverside County Dist. Atty. David Gunn said his office was investigating the possibility of filing additional charges of illegal marijuana cultivation and child endangerment against the boy's parents. The boy's father had not yet been booked because he was separated from his wife and was living elsewhere.

"The mother was arrested Tuesday night and then released on her own recognizance," Gunn said, so that she could be with her hospitalized son.

The Nimitzes could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Moore said the incident began about 3 p.m. Friday, when the boy's mother heard the child screaming. She ran outside to find that one of her two 100-pound wolves "had the boy by the arm through the chain-link fence of their pen."

Moments after turning to find a stick with which to beat the wolf, she looked back in horror to find that the boy's left arm had been detached near the shoulder, Moore said.

Animals Removed

Riverside County Animal Control personnel later tranquilized the animals, a male and female, and took them by truck to a holding facility near Riverside. They will remain there for a 14-day quarantine to determine if they have rabies.

A decision on whether to destroy the animals will be delayed "pending the outcome of the court case," Moore said.

Moore said that in the course of an investigation by Fish and Game Warden Gary Campbell, a door was discovered in back of the wolf enclosure that opened into a greenhouse containing 39 marijuana plants.

"The only way to get to the plants was through the wolf enclosure," Moore said.

It was unclear how the Nimitz family obtained the wolves. Randy Morris, a paramedic who arrived at the scene to find Linda Nimitz cradling the boy in her arms, said, "Apparently, the father has kept wolves as pets since he was a little kid."

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