Following a series of dicey encounters between people with dogs and an emboldened pack of wolves, U.S. Army officials on Fort Richardson announced Saturday that they are placing all training areas west and north of the Artillery Road area off limits.
The restriction is being imposed for the safety of people who use Fort Rich lands for recreational purposes, base officials said in a written statement.
The most recent attack by a group of wolves known as the Elmendorf pack happened Thursday morning, when three women jogging down Artillery Road with their dogs were surprised to find seven or eight wolves trailing them. The pack silently approached from behind, and by the time the women noticed, the wolves spanned the road only a few feet behind them.
One dog took injuries that required stitches, and its owner, Camas Barkemeyer, backed the wolves up temporarily with a can of pepper spray. But the wolves followed the group about three-quarters of a mile down Artillery Road to the entrance gate.
The same pack is believed to have killed another dog in Eagle River last week, as well as at least two other dogs in the last month. The pack has threatened other people and dogs.
State wildlife biologists say the four or five wolf packs in and around the municipality sometimes take pets from yards, but the Elmendorf pack seems to have begun attacking dogs even when humans are close by. That is worrisome, they say.
The Army's statement also reminds residents that they need to obtain a Recreational Access Permit to enter any of the Fort Richardson training areas. The permits are available at the visitor center at the front gate to the post.
People who have current permits can check on the availability of training areas by calling 384-3181, or the visitor center at 384-2916.