Dec 7, 2011 at 7:56 am #1282796
spelt with a tBPL Member
@speltLocale: SW/C PA
From my hometown paper:
Report confirms wolves killed Alaska teacher
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – At least two wolves chased down and killed a teacher who was jogging on a road last year outside a rural Alaska village, according to a report released Tuesday by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
The body of Candice Berner, 32, a special education teacher originally from Slippery Rock, was found March 8, 2010, two miles outside Chignik Lake. The village is 474 miles southwest of Anchorage, on the Alaska Peninsula.
Biologists ruled out reasons for the attack other than aggression. Investigators found no evidence that the wolves had acted defensively or that Berner was carrying food. They found no kill site that wolves may have been defending, no indication that the wolves had become habituated to people, and no evidence of rabies.
“This appears to have been an aggressive, predatory attack that was relatively short in duration,” the report concluded.
Berner’s death by wolves was unprecedented in Alaska, but the animals were immediately suspected. The state medical examiner concluded that Berner died from animal mauling. Alaska State Trooper investigators found drag marks and wolf tracks around the body.
Eight wolves were culled in the aftermath. DNA from two wolves was confirmed on Berner’s body and clothing, including from one wolf not killed.
The news release:
Press Release: December 6, 2011
Contact: Lem Butler, (907) 861-2105
ADF&G Report Confirms 2010 Wolf Attack Fatality
(Juneau) – Today, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) released a report presenting findings related to the March 8, 2010, wolf attack that killed 32-year-old Candice Berner near the village of Chignik Lake on the Alaska Peninsula. The report summarizes agency response and subsequent investigation.
“All lines of evidence are consistent with the conclusion that two or more wolves killed Ms. Berner. The tragic encounter occurred as she jogged down the road less than two miles from the village,” said Lem Butler, principal investigator for ADF&G, and one of four authors of the report.
ADF&G’s investigation included on-scene evaluation of wolf tracks, interviews of those first to arrive at the scene, collection of wolves from the nearby area, and analyses of DNA and of other forensic evidence. Wolf DNA was recovered from the victim and her clothing. DNA test results provided by the U.S. Geological Survey lab in Anchorage indicated that two to four wolves were most likely involved, excluded other animals, and connected one of the wolves killed by the department to the incident.
The broader investigation indicated Ms. Berner was on the road, likely jogging away from town, while the wolves traveled toward town by moving along the road and openings in the brush. It could not be determined if this was a surprise encounter for both Ms. Brenner and the wolves, but evidence clearly shows a predatory response from the wolves.
ADF&G personnel and Alaska State Troopers shot two wolves and contracted trappers later killed six more within 15 miles of the village. The wolves were taken for public safety and for evaluation of biological factors that may have been associated with the attack.
ADF&G veterinarian Dr. Kimberlee Beckmen performed necropsies and collected samples for disease testing and DNA analyses on each of the eight wolves taken. One wolf was clearly implicated in the attack through DNA evidence. It was in apparent good health with very large fat reserves. All but two wolves were in good to excellent condition. There was no DNA evidence linking the two wolves in poor condition to the attack. Investigators found no evidence in any of the wolves of contributing factors to the attack such as rabies, disease, defense of food, or habituation to human food.
“We hope that the report’s findings help bring closure to Ms. Berner’s family, to the community of Chignik Lake and others affected by this sad incident.” said Butler. He also pointed out that wolf attacks on humans are rare and people should not be unnecessarily fearful. People should always maintain a safe distance and healthy respect when encountering wolves or other wild animals. Bear and moose encounters pose more risk to travelers in Alaska than wolves, but all wild animals can be unpredictable.
Bob Berner, Candice Berner’s father, said he hopes that people will learn from his daughter’s death through an increased awareness of the potential danger and by taking steps to increase safety. “People should be mindful of the potential harm that wolves and other wild animals are capable of inflicting,” he said.
The report, “Findings Related to the March 2010 Fatal Wolf Attack Near Chignik Lake, Alaska” is available at: http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/home/news/pdfs/wolfattackfatality.pdf (PDF 967 kB) . Additional information on safety in wolf country is available at: http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=livewith.wolves. .Dec 7, 2011 at 8:27 am #1809660
Very sad. Two non-fatal wolf attacks have been documented in Canada and wolves may have killed one man as well although there is some debate about whether it was a wolf or a bear in that case. This case would be interesting in that it sounds like the wolves were relatively wild. As far as I know wolves involved in the other attacks were habituated to people. Wolf attacks have actually been well documented in other parts of the world. India and Asia both have cases of wolf predation. Apparently rabied wolves were a real problem in Europe a few centuries back which would explain all the exagerated stories of wolves.Dec 7, 2011 at 9:12 am #1809683
Joe ClementBPL Member
Shame they spent 10s of thousands of dollars investigating the obvious, but it is politically incorrect to imply that wolves might be a danger to humans.Dec 7, 2011 at 9:41 am #1809687
Chris WBPL Member
Everything is a danger to humans, even other humans. The opposite is also true.Dec 7, 2011 at 10:33 am #1809711
Maybe now we can have a more rational discussion about the issue. On the one hand you have people with unreasonable fear of everything in the wild. Look the chance of you being attacked by any wild animal is pretty small so a few precatuions might be in order but otherwise enjoy the woods.
On the other you've got people with a totally blind faith in the goodness of wolves. I constantly hear a claim that goes something like this "There has never been a docuented case of a wolf attack in North America." Well I'm not sure what you call "documented" because there are a number of documented cases of wolf attacks from the 1880s to the present. Some are more docuemented than others but these are not old wives tales, their are newspaper accounts, eye witnesses and official investigations you can look at.
Here's my attempt at armchair wildlife biology
Wolves getting habituated to people seems to be a common theme in most of the North American attacks. I would assume that was a factor in attacks in India and Europe as well since those are not exactly pristine wilderness areas.
There seems to be a process where wolves loose their fear of people, eat pets, trash or livestock and eventually they attack people.
I think this process would explain why wolf attacks in North America seem less common compared to other areas where attacks have been more common. Wolves were heavily hunted almost as soon as settlers arrived so in most cases a wolf that lost its fear of humans would have been a dead wolf long before it got bold enough to actually attack a person.Dec 7, 2011 at 10:53 am #1809717
i assume bear spray would work on a wolf …Dec 7, 2011 at 11:27 am #1809729
Should, at least the first one or two of the pack.Dec 7, 2011 at 11:41 am #1809733
@hknewmanLocale: Western US
Tragic but living out in the boonies, one must assume the risk as the wolves, bears, and lions … and even deer, moose, etc…were there before us. Especially as a lone female jogging or smaller stature human jogging triggering a predators chase instincts (though mountain lions have ambushed mountain bikers in California too).
That said, IMO there should be an updating of hunting regulations to allow management of species closer to suburbs, exburbs, and other human settlement, while keeping chunks of wilderness as a genetic reservoir to promote healthy allele frequencies (plus as even more important freshwater recharge zones but that's another thread, another topic). It doesn't make sense for a community to have to pay a contractor to snipe deer and other animals while hunters will pay to do so.
Then again, coyotes and packs of stray dogs have been an issue around desert southwest cities.Dec 7, 2011 at 11:51 am #1809735
Should, at least the first one or two of the pack.
if there are any more … i think you would need a glock with a 17 round magDec 7, 2011 at 1:44 pm #1809777
Mary DBPL Member
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
It's interesting that many of these predator attacks involve joggers, bicyclists or folks who try to run away. To a predator, if it runs, it's dinner!Dec 7, 2011 at 2:07 pm #1809785
Take a child to the zoo. Have them dash about in front of the tiger or jaguar cage and
watch the cat's reaction. They look just like a house cat following a bit of yarn with their eyes just as it twitches around the side of the couch.Dec 7, 2011 at 2:09 pm #1809786
@chadnscLocale: Duluth, Minnesota
Eric Chan wrote:
"if there are any more … i think you would need a glock with a 17 round mag"
If? With each of my five encounters with wolves there were always more than two.Dec 7, 2011 at 2:14 pm #1809790
well put it this way … canadians are scrued then …
there no handgun carry laws here … with some rare exceptions for people who work in the woods … that i know of anyways
short of carrying a rifle for a jog or every hike/climb … its a wonder our wolves havent decimated our human population
bear spray is the only reasonable option up here
down in the land of the free … im sure a good high cap pistol with extra mags would do the trick ;)Dec 7, 2011 at 2:40 pm #1809801
@chadnscLocale: Duluth, Minnesota
Well you are Canadian so you're screwed no matter what. ;)
I wouldn't worry too much about wolves eating you Eric. It's horrible that this person died but I think this was another freak event. In every encounter I've had with wolves I was out solo, in the wild, no bear spray or firearm and never had an issue with them. Even the time when I came across a deer carcass that they had been feeding on I was just fine. I just kept on hiking and they just watched me go.
Scary as hell to be eyed down by six timberwolves though. :/
Edited cuz I type like a drunken monkey.Dec 7, 2011 at 6:30 pm #1809866
Tom KirchnerBPL Member
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
"bear spray is the only reasonable option up here"
How about bear bangers?Dec 7, 2011 at 8:42 pm #1809922
The fact that this thread has not devolved into bashing a certain former Alaskan governor is a very good reason why I keep coming back to BPL. If you want some free entertainment just read the comments following online articles about this wolf attack. On the other hand I'm glad even chaff here is basically civil. I'm also glad people here actually take the time to explain their opinions in a logical manner.
Anyway gotta go, might add more thoughts on wolves later.Dec 7, 2011 at 9:45 pm #1809935
do bear bangers work even on bears?Dec 7, 2011 at 10:37 pm #1809946
Dean F.BPL Member
@acrosomeLocale: Back in the Front Range
Obviously wolves are predators of sufficient size to threaten a human. I think that's an unequivocal statement.
But on the other hand there are elements who irrationally hate wolves and would happily exterminate them (as they have in the past) and keep trying to rationalize doing so. Ranchers, many hunters, etc., and they try to use incidents like this to political advantage. Personally, I find it repugnant. (And before you flame me- I support managed hunting, though I haven't personally found time to hunt in a decade.)
So, where is the outcry for all the moose maulings? Clearly there are other agendas afoot here than concern for public safety. And I'll laugh at anyone who tells me otherwise.Dec 7, 2011 at 11:08 pm #1809950
Travis LeannaBPL Member
>Clearly there are other agendas afoot here than concern for public safety.
"Other agendas" are what we vote on every election. Problem is, nobody knows what they are and how they work when they go to the polls.Dec 7, 2011 at 11:16 pm #1809953
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
"bear spray is the only reasonable option up here"
Or bear flares.
–B.G.–Dec 8, 2011 at 6:20 am #1809998
Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
"On the other hand I'm glad even chaff here is basically civil…"
+1 to that
A political strategy – split the masses into two groups that argue hatefully, endlessly – then a tiny minority can slip in and loot the treausry without anyone noticing because we're so busy hating each other
All my self restraint required to not make some lame Sarah Palin joke : )Dec 8, 2011 at 7:21 am #1810022
I don't think this case really changes the debate for those who were involved in the before. Wolf kills had been documented in other areas and in the more distant pass in the US. There were enough cases of near fatal attacks here that this probably wasn't a huge surprise to those following the issue.
As far as other agendas go this was interesting for me. I was rather surprised I didn't see the "kill all the wolves" agenda that supposedly exists. I couldn't find much of it at all even on a hunting forum. Its seems like a smaller group than you'd think.
What I did see LOTS of was people trying to come up with any excuse to say it wasn't wolves. There was all kinds of baseless speculation that it was feral dogs (unlikely in that area), a mountain lion (non-existant in that area), or fowl play (no basis given except some racist speculations about Alaskan Natives and culture clashes with a teacher).
I was also very annoyed at supposed experts continually parotting the line that "There has never been a DOCUMENTED case of a HEALTHY wolf KILLING a human in NORTH AMERICA." I capped all thoe words because they are important qualifiers. There have been likely wolf killings but we don't have FBI files on them so they aren't "documented," for example. We do have documented cases of recent wolf attacks but since no one died the above statement slyly discounts them.
It seems some people want to preserve the idea of wolves as being misunderstood but harmless at all cost. They seem to think admitting wolves are (rarely) dangerous would instantly justify massive wolf hunts etc.
I don't see why its such a big deal really. We know grizzly bears are dangerous but we've been carefully protecting them as much as possible for decades.
Again before you wolf lovers out there flame me I like wolves to. I just think wolves need some better informed friends. Instead of sticking our heads in the sand we should be looking for ways to avoid a problem before it gets someone hurt.Dec 8, 2011 at 7:58 am #1810034
Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
According to Oregon Public TV piece, biggest threat to wolves is from ranchers because they kill livestock. Also hunters don't like them.
It is possible to manage livestock in a way that minimizes predation. Conservation groups pay ranchers for lost livestock.
But it's easier to just kill off any wolves.
There are 4 wolves in Oregon that migrated from Idaho. 2 of them killed livestock, so they're going to be killed. Seems like sort of a shame. How can you have a "pack" of just 2 wolves?Dec 8, 2011 at 8:36 am #1810043
@hknewmanLocale: Western US
Wolves are a convenient scapegoat and will take a few cattle per year. Now balance those few losses against the tens of thousands of cattle lost every year to harsh North American freezes, more to diseases, and I do not think they've finished counting the losses from the southern heat wave through Texas. I'm not saying no hunting as man has replaced mountain lions as the apex predator in many places, but people really need to look at this rationally in terms of ecosystem health.Dec 8, 2011 at 8:52 am #1810049
I am pretty excited because there are at least two new wolf packs in our area. We have found scat several times and bear scat with wolf toenails in it. All in all I hope for a
few to continue to be established.
(Wait for it) but— the idea of ranchers and hunters being some sort of villains bothers me.
In this area it has been at least two generations of ranchers since they had to deal with wolves.Their grandparents worked long and hard to get rid of them. People don't make that kind of effort due to unfounded fear. Today ranchers suddenly are exposed to large losses to their income from predation (and we are not talking about ranchers that are in the 1% here) and are expected to pay for additional security features (many are impractical anyway). The documentation required to be paid for wolf predation is hard to get and no one in this area has been paid yet. It is unfair to put the burden of reintroduction on just a few.
The hunters I know are all over the place on this issue. Some want wolves as part of a
healthy ecosystem, some want to hunt them when there are enough to be sustainable, some want nothing to do with them at all as the deer and elk herds are wayyyy down from historical levels, and those with dogs are really concerned as wolves make
great effort to kill any dogs they find and currently the hunters are not allowed to defend their animals.
The decisions about this stuff is mostly done by people that won't be effected. If you
don't get some kind of bridge built between stake holders, you will end up with the few
wolves being done in by vigilantes.
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