Wolf Song of Alaska News

Weather Stalls Plan to Kill Wolves Blamed for Teacher's Death

Jackie Bartz / KTUU-TV / March 12, 2010

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Chignik Lake sits on the Alaska Peninsula (Courtesy Google Earth)
Chignik Lake sits on the Alaska Peninsula (Courtesy Google Earth)

CHIGNIK LAKE -- Plans to kill a wolf pack blamed for a teacher's death in this southwest Alaska village were put on hold Friday due to poor weather.

Village residents discovered the body of Candice Berner, 32, surrounded by wolf tracks a short distance from town on Monday. With the results of an autopsy conducted Thursday, and reports from biologists and villagers, the Alaska State Troopers confirmed that an animal attack killed Berner.

The most likely culprits, trooper Col. Audie Holloway said Thursday, are area wolves.

Troopers and Department of Fish and Game staff headed to the village Thursday to coordinate a response.

"Once we get a good weather break, we'll go out in an airplane and try to evaluate the number of wolves in the area we associate with the pack," Fish and Game biologist Lem Butler said. "We believe it's four wolves currently, but we'll be able to verify that better with an aerial perspective."

Though they had hoped to use at least one plane and a helicopter to track the wolves from the air and shoot them, it was a waiting game Friday with the team grounded because of expected strong winds and heavy snow.

Snow and wind would obscure tracks and prevent safe flying, Butler said.

One state plane was able to make it to Chignik Lake, but a helicopter on its way there from King Salmon was diverted back.
"Once we've located the wolves, we'll remove them lethally, so we can collect biological samples, and, of course, we also view this as a public safety concern, so we don't have future problems with this particular pack, since they've felt comfortable enough to try it once, we want to remove them from the area," Butler said.
Meanwhile, Chignik Lake residents and parents are on high alert. Kids are not walking to school by themselves, and some village residents have been on patrol with rifles and handguns.

Berner, originally from Pennsylvania, started as a special education teacher for the Lake and Peninsula School District in August and was living in Perryville.

This is a developing story. Return to KTUU.com as more information becomes available, and watch the Channel 2 News TV broadcasts for a full report.

Contact Jackie Bartz at jbartz@ktuu.com


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