Wolf Song of Alaska News

Reports of Wolf-on-Dog Attacks in Alaska Have Many Worried

Tips on how to respond to aggressive wolves

Steve O'Brien / CBS / KTVA / December 12, 2007

Reports of wolf-on-dog attacks have been heard about around the state. Now some people are worried that children are in danger. But wildlife officials have shared a little information about wolves with CBS 11 News as well as some tips--just in case there's some encounters.

Wildlife officials tell CBS 11 News wolves are very intelligent animals; and normally, they're afraid of humans. But if you come across an angry and hungry one, there are some things that everyone should know.

"If the wolf appears aggressive, the correct response is aggression. Is not being passive or playing dead, it's to be able to scream, fight, throw things and be nasty," said Cathie Harms of Fish and Game in Fairbanks.

The issue of wolf attacks came to the forefront after several dog killings throughout our state. Two were killed in Anchorage over the last two weeks. In Fairbanks, three canines were killed since November. Now some people are looking at their four-legged friends a little differently.
"I usually run with her on a leash. Even in the backcountry, usually. And if I do let her off, I keep a real good eye on her," said dog owner, Andy Baker.

But are the attacks going to continue?

Some worry that wolves are going to make it a habit to go after their animals. But officials are saying these are isolated incidents.

"I believe it is a progression of learning. They learn that dogs are now food, a particular pack has. Most of the packs have not made that jump. But this particular pack has learned that," said Harms.

"There may not be a lot we can do to push the wolves out--except for restraining our pets, keeping them under supervision, so that this doesn't happen," said Tom Banks of Defenders of Wildlife.

It may be a new attitude when owners take their canines out for walks. But living in Alaska, some say they're prepared for anything.

"Wild animals get hungry and they're opportunists. So a small dog is a good target for food and attack. So we should be careful," said Baker.

Earlier this week, there was a public forum about the concern with wolf attacks. Some of the things they're going to work on include posting wolf sightings online, setting up a 24-hour hotline and designing a wolf safety program for kids in school.

In Anchorage, Fish and Game officials don't feel the need to take that route, unless the problem gets worse.

To contact Steve, call 907-273-3186.

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