Wolf attacks in Alaska raise concerns


Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?: Hungry wolves in Alaska are becoming more brazen around humans.
Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?: Hungry wolves in Alaska are becoming more brazen around humans.Courtesy National Park Service
A pack of wolves in Anchorage, Alaska surrounded three joggers and attacked one of their dogs last week, the latest in a series of wolf attacks in that city.

Seven or eight wolves were involved in the incident that took place along a popular stretch of road where the three women were jogging with two dogs.

The attack came out of nowhere, according to Alycia Beirgrohslein, one of the women involved.

"They were so quiet. They just came right up on us. They were quick. The dogs had no clue. They didn't smell them or hear them - nothing," she said.

As the snarling and howling wolves began to circle them, the women held tight to their dogs’ leashes, yelling and screaming as they backed away.

"As soon as we would turn our backs to try to go, they would run up on us, and we would turn around and start screaming again, and I would spray my pepper spray”, said Camas Barkemeyer, who’s dog was attacked by three of the wolves. The women made it safely back to their car but were shaken by the ordeal, and the dog had to undergo surgery to treat its wounds.

"They were not afraid of us," Barkemeyer said. "And I'm afraid that if I was out here by myself, they would attack me. They were not afraid."

The same wolves, known as the Elmendorf wolf pack, are suspected of killing another dog just hours earlier and less than a mile away. They may have also been involved with two other dog attacks in the last month. Thirteen years earlier, the Elmendorf pack had been involved in series of dog attacks in the same region. Those attacks decreased after wildlife officials trapped and killed the lead wolves.

Wolf attacks on chained dogs are fairly common in Alaska, especially in years of little snow. In those years, moose are harder to prey upon, and the hungry predators become more opportunistic. But what’s troublesome about the recent brazen attacks is that the usually human-shy wolves seem undeterred by their presence.

State officials are requesting the military and railroad workers to frighten off wolves with rubber bullets, buckshot, and pepper spray in order to put the fear of humans back into them.

Achorage Daily News

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Ben's picture
Ben says:

But I thought that all wolves just wanted to cuddle and be friends... I dont know how many time I can repeat it; Bring a gun with you while out in the wilderness! We dont have claws and big strong teeth, we need to use our brains to give us an advantage...

posted on Mon, 12/24/2007 - 7:35am
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

By "brains" you meant "guns" again, right? Because I'm not sure that one equals the other. If I could build my own gun from scratch, however...

But what a wonderful, Christmasy story. It looks like the wolves have finally turned on us, and are using their wolf magic against us. I don't think we even stand a chance against all that wisdom.

posted on Mon, 12/24/2007 - 3:11pm
Ben's picture
Ben says:

Yes Jgordon, I in this case I do mean a gun. I'm not sure you would have much luck fighting off a pack of wolves with a dictionary. But I suppose you could use a sword or a maybe some other defensive item that we constructed using out brains/innovation. BTW, People build guns from scratch all the time. i dont know if you have noticed but they are not the most complicated machine. I would say if you are going out into the wild it would be using your brain to bring what you may need to survive. To some the idea of a gun saving a life is a mystery; guns only kill people so they are horrible and should all be destroyed. Would you like to point out a better way to deal with the overly aggressive wolves? Maybe there is a new tool that has been invented that I don't know about.

posted on Thu, 12/27/2007 - 7:45am
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

You have to admit, though, fighting off a pack of wolves with a dictionary would be pretty badass. Or, like you said, a sword might be ok too.

But, nope, I'd say that the best way to deal with these wolves probably involves some guns. Homemade or otherwise.

I'm actually working on making my own gun at the moment. I tried using soap for the first model, but then bath time came around and I pretty much destroyed my progress, so now I'm on to popsicle sticks and tacky glue. I've already got the basic shape down - it's not that complicated.

posted on Thu, 12/27/2007 - 10:49am
Ben's picture
Ben says:

I do love your sarcasm, it keeps me smiling. :)

The hardest part of a homemade firearm may be the propellant. Think of how simple a musket is; or maybe some of the very early hand cannons. Find a small section of steel pipe and you have a darn good start for a low power firearm. How about all the people out there that have made potato cannons with PVC parts from the store, I know i've made one and it wasn't hard at all. You may want to start with some different materials then popsicle sticks and glue. :P

posted on Thu, 12/27/2007 - 11:17am
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

There has been a horrible popsicle stick fire. Propellant was the hardest part, you were right. But why shouldn't gasoline have worked?

All firearms/craft projects have been scrapped.

posted on Thu, 12/27/2007 - 11:57am
Scott aka GShepdad's picture
Scott aka GShepdad says:

And here we were conned by those furry loving eco-wackos and Federales into believing that friendly furry wolves would be assimilated into the fringes of civilization without negative impact.

Carry a gun and a spare magazine. I carry my .45 ACP down here in AZ when I walk the dogs or go for a hike. 1st round of snake shot the remainder GI ball ammo. Our coyotes are acting aggressively, as well.

posted on Mon, 12/24/2007 - 5:34pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

And remember: they can only be killed by a direct shot to the brain, or a serious injury to the spinal column, so don't waste your shells with body shots.

Oh, wait, I'm thinking of zombies.

Still, that's something else to be concerned over.

posted on Tue, 12/25/2007 - 10:51pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I thought that too! But if there is less snow I guess that means less mouse are around. So now they are probably taking their hunger out on our dogs. There should be more fences around peoples homes. Just an opinion here. I certainly would be scared walking up there with only my dog and my friend! If wolfs were cuddly now we wouldn't have this problem. This is calling to my attentention so I never ever go to Alaska ever again! I say good day.

posted on Tue, 12/25/2007 - 9:26am
david stoecklein's picture
david stoecklein says:

Dose any one out there have the facts on how many wolves have attacked people . I heard some other reports a few years ago about some attacks in Alaska and in Canada ?

posted on Wed, 12/26/2007 - 10:19am
Steve's picture
Steve says:

Is this David (photog)?

I assume if yes you deal with wildlife regular?
Wolves fear gunshots without being hit normally. However it appears they are no longer holding true to their past.
In Alaska they are simply retaliating to the mistreatment :)

Walking Dogs in the woods where Wolves are known to be is like dangling a carrot in front of a horse is it not?

posted on Sun, 12/30/2007 - 8:37am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Is this Dave S from Nebraska?

posted on Mon, 12/31/2007 - 2:14pm
mdr's picture
mdr says:

A search of the Internet brought up some interesting information regarding attacks. Wikipedia has a list of attacks that resulted in death that can be found here.

An online companion to the third edition of the book Principles of Conservation Biology includes an article entitled Wolf Habituation as a Conservation Conundrum written by Diane K. Boyd. In it Boyd details some recent wolf attacks in Canada and Alaska (and India).

What I found particularly interesting was Boyd's mention that the common factor occuring in nearly all the attacks had been the wolves' increasing boldness around humans, which seems to be what's going on in Anchorage right now.

On November 8, 2005 Kenton Carnegie, a geology student, was determined to have been killed by wolves in a remote area of Saskatchewan, Canada.

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle relates some information about that event, along with other wolf attack information including citing an exhaustive Norwegian study (Linnell et al, 2002) about the subject. This may be the motherlode. You can download a pdf file of the Norwegian study here.

posted on Wed, 12/26/2007 - 1:17pm
Denny's picture
Denny says:

You know what we should be carrying around (as anti-wolf weapons) instead of ".45 ACP"s with spare clips? Clubs.

Think about it: "I was attacked by wolves [awesome], but I fought them off by shooting them from a distance [pretty weak]," as opposed to "I was attacked by wolves [awesome], but I fought them off with a freakin' table leg [totally awesome]."

Unless you're hardcore enough to use your teeth, just carry a club. Or a bowling pin. Powerful handguns are for short men.

posted on Wed, 12/26/2007 - 4:33pm
evelyn's picture
evelyn says:

the girls in this story did everything wrong and the wolves will have to pay for their ignorance. To top this all , they saw all the signs about wolves in the area attacking another dog and so they put their dogs on a leash........ As far as the wolves were concerned, they came bringing food. I love my two dogs and live in southern california. I stupidly brought them into mountain lion country and was very fortunate the lion wasn't hungry enough to fight the 3 of us and just growled at us from afar. I would have thought that, especially in Alaska ,people out hiking would expect wildlife -If not wolves then other hungry predators.

posted on Wed, 12/26/2007 - 6:54pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

If you live where you know there's WOLVES around and you know things have been hard on them( Getting food). Why wouldn't you protect yourself and your pet??? We Humans are taking up their country,land whatever you want to call it and we need to educate ourselves about the Wolves and where we live & whats going on!!! Same as living in the city~ So to speak. If you know there's been trouble in an area you take x-tra precautions or change your route to and from where your going.....Kinda Comin Sense if you ask me.

Last time I checked we were the smarter anima!!!

posted on Wed, 03/25/2009 - 10:26am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Two things to keep in mind if your going into wolf country in Alaska.
1 Wolves are no longer afraid of humans.
2. Wolves hunt in packs.
A club, peper spray, or ever military mace will not stop or prevent an attack.
You need a gun, if you have time you can try firing a couple of shots in the air. If they come at you, shoot the leader this might break the attack, if it doesn't your dead.

posted on Wed, 03/17/2010 - 11:50pm
Sherwin123's picture
Sherwin123 says:

I love my dogs and I would be heartbroken if any of them ever gets attacked. Where I come from, there are no wolves so I never have to worry. However, if I ever go to Alaska, I'll be sure to travel in my own pack. Safety in numbers?

posted on Sun, 09/11/2011 - 8:03pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

that's right evelyn, blame the victim!! Guns are only as bad as the people that use them, and can do much good.

posted on Sat, 01/28/2012 - 10:10am

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