A pack of wolves killed and ate a pet dog that was chained up in Two Rivers last week, and a state wildlife biologist suspects it's the same wolf pack that killed and devoured a dog in North Pole three weeks prior.
The latest killing took place at a home near 19.5 Mile Chena Hot Springs Road. The owner found the dog, a 13-year-old chow/shepherd mix, on Thanksgiving morning.
"They broke her loose from her chain and drug her about 100 yards into the field and ate her," said the owner, who asked not to be identified for fear that his two young children would find out details of how the dog died.
There were six wolves in the pack, he said. The wolves bedded down right where they killed the dog, only about a football field from the house, which sits right next to the road.
"That's how I knew there were six of them," the owner said. "It looks like there are four bigger ones and two smaller ones, based on the size of their feet."
Tom Seaton, assistant area management biologist for the Department of Fish and Game in Fairbanks, said there's a good chance it's the same pack of wolves that killed a dog in North Pole on Oct. 31. A pack of five wolves killed and ate a 15-year-old black Labrador retriever at a home on the edge of the Chena Lake Recreation Area after the owner let it out early in the morning. The owners found the dead dog half eaten on the lake not far from their house.
"We heard about the one in North Pole," the dog owner said, "and my wife asked me, 'Do you think our dogs are all right?' and I said, 'Oh yeah, we live right up next to the road. They won't come up here.'"
While it's a 25-mile drive between where the dog was killed in North Pole and the incident in Two Rivers, the straight-line distance is much shorter and there are several dog mushing trails connecting the two areas. The wolves also could have traveled along the Chena River to reach the house at 19.5 Mile, which is about a mile from the river.
"Those two places aren't far apart on the Chena River," Seaton said. "It makes sense it would be the same group."
In addition, a trapper who traps along the Chena River near the Chena Lake Recreation Area told Seaton there has been a pack of wolves roaming that neck of the woods for the past two winters.
The wolves didn't attack two other dogs, a black Labrador retriever and a chocolate Lab that were chained up nearby, the owner said. The owner said he could see where two of the wolves circled the black Lab before returning to where the dog was killed.
Two of the wolves returned early Monday at about 1:30 a.m., he said.
"I could see them in the full moon," he said. "There were two of them; they were poking around right where they killed (the dog)."
The man tried to sneak out and shoot the wolves but doesn't think he hit them. The wolves ran off and stopped at the edge of the field, where they began howling, he said.
"They howled for almost two hours," the man said. "It was kind of creepy."
The man said he has lived on the property for more than 20 years and the only sign of wolves he has seen was one that his father shot in the field below the house several years ago.
"I've lived there my whole life and never seen nothing like that," he said.
The man has kept his other two dogs locked in the garage at night since the incident and has bought pens to put them in, he said. He and his brother set some snares in hopes of catching the wolves if they come back again, the man said.
"It seems to me they're pretty brave," the man said. "To bed down as close to the house and road as they did seems pretty brazen to me."
Whether the wolves have developed a taste for dog remains to be seen, Seaton said. There are plenty of dogs and livestock in Two Rivers, a mushing and farming enclave about 20 miles east of Fairbanks.
"Those wolves are going to be there unless somebody catches them; that's where they live," the biologist said.
If the wolves have roamed the area the past two winters without being trapped, chances are they won't be easy to catch, he said.
"They're probably pretty smart wolves," Seaton said.
The only way to protect pets from marauding wolves is to keep them inside a house or garage or in a fenced area, Seaton said.
Even though it's happened twice in the past month, cases of wolves killing dogs are relatively rare.
"The chances of a dog getting killed by wolves is less than getting hit by car on the road," Seaton said.
Contact staff Writer Tim Mowry at 459-7587.