Budget compromises wolves, other politics shafts orcas, PA porcupines
Prospect Park owls fledged; Hawk parent nabs a pigeon
Praying Mantis Clumsily Eats Bees in Brooklyn
" />

Hunters Jump on Probable Alaska Fatal Wolf Attack to Argue for More Hunting

A self-portrait on Candice Berner’s blog

The horrible death last week of Candice Berner, an adventurous special ed teacher spending the year in remote Alaska villages, may be the first confirmed fatal attack by wolves in modern American history. Berner, 32, was attacked and partially eaten by animals March 8. Alaska wildlife officials shot two area wolves March 15 and are figuring out if they are the killers and if they have rabies, a common cause of rare wolf attacks. Hunting advocates are already jumping on the case as proof wolves are dangerous and need to be hunted.

Originally, because wolf attacks are so rare, authorities even wondered if she had died first, then been attacked. A fellow Alaska teacher said on her own blog that she couldn’t believe it.

Initially, I was in shock. Wolves, seriously? My knee-jerk reaction was bullshit. I did some research, and this is only the second time in history a wolf killed a human. A bear would attack a human, not wolves. It seemed too obscure to actually be true. Sometimes, I am angry. There is a part of me that thinks there must be something more to the story, perhaps foul play. Although she was tiny (standing at 4’11 and maybe 100lbs soaking wet), she was also a hunter and a trapper.

But her  autopsy points to just to an animal attack. Wolf tracks were at the scene and the other big predator, bears, are still hibernating.

Berner usually ran an impressive six miles. She was an enthusiastic, veteran teacher, with a master’s degree and many years experience in both California and Pennsylvania. Her blog Adventures of an Alaska Bush Teacher shows how excited she was to get the full Alaska experience, seeing the wildlife and learning from everyone she met. She went trapping; caught a fox, hoped to catch a wolf. She admired villagers who survived on what they fished, hunted and gathered. She went with the kids on an impromptu field trip to see a slain moose that would provide meat for the winter.

 Only in bush Alaska does a successful morning hunting equal a school wide break.  Subsistence hunting and fishing takes priority over many things including spelling tests, because it’s survival.   

But she didn’t care for the tourist trophy hunters.

I personally do not like the bears being shot, I think they’re beautiful and amazing animals to watch.  Most hunters don’t eat the meat, and only keep the fur… 

She mentions carrying bear spray when she getting two roaming village dogs to accompany her to watch out for bear and other animals.

During our run they chase away ravens, magpies and sometimes foxes. They’re great company to have and I feel safer running on the trails. At the end of our run I reward them with another milk bone.

Berner’s picture of her school’s wolf mascot

That was in her home base of Perryville; she flew by bush plane to four other remote villages. Just that day she had landed in the 100-person Chignik Lake to teach, then went running after school. Stray dogs in Chignik Lake were known to go missing; residents blamed wolves, local TV reports. It’s too bad some of Berner’s dog friends weren’t with her to protect her–or at least warn her. She had an iPod and may not have heard them coming until they lunged, police told her father. Even having dogs along may not have helped. Wolves are known to attack dogs and the people with them.

Hunters are already jumping on the case as an opportunity. They argue for more hunting by saying we need them to kill dangerous animals. They put themselves in the uncomfortable position of routing for animal attacks. When someone says wolf attacks are rare, Black Bear Blog, responds: “That is an outrageous statement that is simply not true.” Look at all the comments from this Field and Stream report saying wolves have killed hundreds and blaming her for not carrying a gun and jogging, which can trigger prey drive. Readers on fishingbuddy castigate her father for not rushing out to slaughter the wolves with an assault weapon. 

According to the International Wolf Center, said a 2005 attack on a geology student in Saskatchewan was the first confirmed wolf attack death. Dr. L. David Mech, founder of the non-profit International Wolf Center and a wolf biologist with the United States Geological Survey said that the 2005 attack was a horrible “but one fatal wolf attack in the recorded history of North America does not warrant widespread alarm.”

Her father Bob Berner, despite his horrible loss, didn’t try to stir up any anti-wolf rage.”They’re just doing what wolves do,” Berner told the Anchorage Daily News. “Their nature happened to kill my daughter, but I don’t have any anger towards wolves.”

Read Berner’s Blog About her Adventures in Alaska

Related posts:


3 comments to Hunters Jump on Probable Alaska Fatal Wolf Attack to Argue for More Hunting

  • bill723

    The one thing that the wolf lovers are doing that will result in less wolves is that everything is on a swing. 100 years ago we killed the wolf off because it killed to much livestock. We now brought the wolf back, but if they keep yelling more wolves no control it will turn most of the people against them and they will be hunted out again.It not like it was 100 years ago, farmer and rancher live here now. the wolf can’t be just dumped out with no control. they are lying about the number of wolves there are. They even say so by saying they only count known packs. They say there is a number of single wolves for every pack (they know it) but there not in the wolf count. The wolves are killing off the deer and elk herds and the wolf lovers are lying how fast the herds are going down in wolf areas. When wild animals start running out they will turn to livestock, pets and attacking people. If they killed every wolf in the lower 48 all they would do is go back to canada and get 60 more wolves. Maybe this time they would get the right sub species if not maybe a smaller wolf that can co exist with people with less conflict than the larger wolves from canada.

  • Anonymous

    I have studied wolves as a hobby since I was a child and grew up in a rural hunting area in Michigan. I also worked at a wildlife rehab for several years. I am not blind to either sides of this argument. In my mind there is just a simple black and white reason to all of this mayhem. Now that people are continuing to populate more rural and secluded areas in the world, we are going to come in contact with more dangerous wildlife (that would normally keep away from us), which causes deaths on both sides of the spectrum. Are we wrong to want to protect ourselves from these dangers? Are we wrong to settle and live where we want? No. Of course I do not want to see people or wolves killed, there is not much that can be done for either. Another thing many people forget in this argument is other animals. Deer are extremely deadly…and have killed thousand of people (not just car accidents) but you don;t see right groups fighting over them do you? (I’m not saying deer have ever been on the brink of extinction…but this argument is about wolves and human conflict). There are many dangerous animals and hunting as BlackBear put it is a tried and true way of dealign with this. Hunters are not out to just kill every single thing they see, if nothing else most hunters know more about wildlife, their habits, and lives better than the average animal activist. I’m not saying we need to abolish wolves, but there are measures we need to take to ensure that wolves dont; kill people and have a good size population to survive, this is not easy, but with more support it can be done.

  • BlackBear

    It’s unfortunate that in your rush to paint hunters as bloodthirsty, you quoted me out of context. It’s very important to put the comment in context as it was in response to what was said in the video. The narrator stated that it was rare WORLDWIDE for wolves to attack humans and that is not a true statement and it is outrageous as well as unsupported. If the reporter bothered to do any research at all, or yourself for that matter, they would have learned that there are many historic documents and accounts of hundreds and thousands of people WORLDWIDE being attacked over the years.
    Americans brag about how we have never had a wolf attack before. Well, duh! Wolves were wiped out in the lower 48 a long time ago and just now are they spreading across areas of the Great Lakes, Northern Rockies and Southwest. As human and wolf populations grow to more closely resemble those of Europe, Russia, Scandinavia, India, etc. we will hear of more attacks.
    It’s also incorrect that you want to paint hunters as “calling for more hunting” because wolf populations are getting out of hand in places.
    First of all, hunting is the ONLY tried and true method of managing wildlife populations.
    Secondly, as you could have read some or all of my articles on Candice Berner and wolves in general, my calls, like those of the majority of hunters, are for better management of wolves as well as a better foundation of education to teach people about wolves. Animal rights activists scream 24/7 that people need to learn to live with wolves and other predators. Why is it that as soon as we begin teaching people the truth about wolves, not some fairy tale about wolves only eating mice and moles, that immediately people like you begin characterizing hunters as just wanting to kill something? That’ disingenuous as best and hardly gives people an opportunity to “learn to live with wolves”. If we continue to perpetuate the myth that wolves are harmless, more people die. Is that acceptable to you?
    Dr. Valerius Geist has taken the time from his years of wolf studies to list for us the seven steps or stages that wolves go through that lead up to an attack on humans. I am sure that once all the facts are gathered in this case, those same stages all played out as they kid in the Kenton Carnegie case a few years ago.
    So, because I, like Dr. Geist, want to teach people to recognize there are stages, we are calling for more killing?