Wolf Song of Alaska News

No One's Howling When Wolves Eat Dogs

Craig Medred / Outdoors / Anchorage Daily News / January 1, 2008

Where, oh where, are the humaniacs when our companion animals need them?

This has not been a good winter to be a dog in Alaska.

Aside from the frighteningly "normal'' dangers for domestic canines -- being struck dead by motor vehicles or dumped at the pound by owners who don't really care for pets -- natural dangers have risen up with a vengeance:

Dogs disappearing into glacier-like crevasses in the Kenai Mountains.

Dogs attacked and eaten by wolves.

You could almost say it's dangerous for Fido just to leave the house.
So where are the companion-animal lovers of PETA and the Humane Society, usually so quick to offer unsolicited advice? As we all know, they have a load of it every year for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. They're more than happy to tell anyone who will listen that mushers shouldn't run the race because a dog might die.

And because that could happen, they say, the race is cruel.

Well then, what about taking your dog out of the house to risk being eaten alive by wolves?

Which is worse here?

As a bit of an athlete myself, albeit a slow and aged one, the thought of the old ticker giving out someday while out on a run or a cycle doesn't sound that bad.

Fall down, grab the chest, lose consciousness and follow the white lights on out of here.

Yes, I've seen the white lights. I don't know to where or what they lead, but there was a day they didn't look all that far away, and they didn't look all that bad. They came, incidentally, at the end of a long fall onto a rock ledge that probably prevented a longer fall, or I wouldn't be here writing this.

Going out this way or in some variant thereof seems preferable to being eaten alive by wild animals -- any wild animals.

I have a little experience in that arena, too. I once shot a grizzly bear that had its teeth in my ankle.

(No, as humorist Dave Barry used to say, I am not making this up, and I have the scars to prove it.)

That experience left me with a very strong opinion that being eaten alive by wild animals would be a bad way to check out -- a very, very bad way to check out.

"Bears, " as a highly knowledgeable biologist acquaintance once observed, "don't kill; they eat.''

Wolves are only slightly better in this regard. Because they are smaller and weaker than bears, they have to get their "kills'' down dead or very close to it before they can actually start eating, but they are capable of ripping out some pretty big, tasty chunks of flesh in the process.

I certainly wouldn't want one of our dogs to die in this way. Of course, I don't like the thought of any of our dogs dying, period. There's a part of me that is as much a stupid old dog lover as some of those Iditarod mushers.

As such, I like wild canines, too. But as I've told others about the relationships we have not only with our pets but the pets of others:

"Your dog is just a dog. My dog is family.''

Much the same applies to our wild canine friends:

"A wolf is just a wolf. My dog is family.''

If you understand this, it leads to an easy conclusion as to what ought to be done today to aid Alaska's pets.

Somebody ought to whack a few of those marauding wolves, as a save-the-wilderness, protect-the-wolverines, stop-the-aerial-wolf-hunts friend bluntly observed the other day while were mountain biking through the Campbell Tract chuckling over how Alaska has changed in the past several decades.

Wolves killing dogs on the outskirts of Anchorage is one thing. The state's largest city has always had a healthy community of tree huggers not only willing to have wolves and bears wandering up close to the edge of civilization, but happy about it.

But wolves killing dogs on the outskirts of Fairbanks? In the old Alaska, the only wolf that showed its hide near the Interior city was a dead wolf.

And, indeed, a few dead wolves in and around Fairbanks, not to mention Anchorage, might be a good idea these days. Particularly around Anchorage.

Our local wolves are generations removed from the realization that people are a danger. Reminding them of this before they eat someone's dog and follow it up the leash to chew on someone's arm might be a good idea. The evidence is out there to indicate that wolves that get too comfortable around people can end up hurting people.

No reasonable person would want that to happen, if for no other reason that wolf attacks on people are bad for the wolves' image.

For that reason alone, you might think the humaniacs would be spouting off with some solution for Alaska's latest, realest threat to dogs.

Then again, maybe not.
Find Craig Medred online at adn.com/contact/cmedred or call 257-4588.

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