Video: Wolf-mauling death leaves residents in 'shock'

msnbc.com
updated 3/16/2010 7:11:28 PM ET 2010-03-16T23:11:28

State biologists have killed two of the wolves they believe fatally mauled a teacher who was jogging along a remote road just outside of Chignik Lake.

The wolves were spotted in the Chignik drainage on Monday, a week after the March 8 death of Candice Berner, 32. Troopers believe the special-education teacher was set on by at least two wolves in what would be an extremely rare attack by wolves on humans.

Bad weather had delayed the hunt for the wolves. They were spotted from the air and shot by Fish and Game biologists.

"We searched the Chignik drainage and located two wolves later in the day that matched the general description, that I've been hearing from several accounts. So we were able to successfully take those wolves from the air and we'll be sending the full bodies back to our lab to get worked up," Lem Butler, a biologist with Fish and Game, told KTUU-TV.

"I think it's highly likely" that they were responsible for the attack, Butler said.

Carcasses to be examined
People riding snowmachines discovered Berner's body on March 8 just outside the town of Chignik Lake, on the Alaska Peninsula about 500 miles southwest of Anchorage. Biologists believe Berner is the first person killed by wolves in Alaska's history.

Those who grew up in the village remember wolf legends warning children to never look in the eye of a wolf and never speak of the "evil" that possessed them.

"I've heard elders say that wolves are like people. They're very intelligent, and they will work at getting their food," said Orville Lind with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who grew up in Chignik Lake.

Biologists don't know for sure what triggered the attack but say it could be a combination of opportunity, hunger and instinct.

Biologists say they will take the carcasses to Fairbanks for testing.

A worldwide study by the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research in 2002 found that that there were between 20 and 30 wolf attacks on humans in all of North America in the 20th century. Of these, three were fatal, all because of rabies.

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