Wolves kill teacher in Alaska, boosting anti-wolf policy
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:
CHIGNIK LAKE, Alaska– Wolves on March 8, 2010 killed and
partially ate special education teacher Candace Berner, 32, a 4’11”
weightlifter and boxer who was on a solo training run in preparation
to compete in a marathon.
Originally from Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, Berner had
been in Alaska for only six months. Her cause of death was
documented by 150 feet of tracks and blood showing her struggle with
the wolves. Alaska Department of Fish & Game staff shot the two
wolves believed to have attacked Berner.
Berner was the first human fatality from a wild wolf attack
in the U.S. since 1910, when a man named James Smith shot five
wolves near Waterloo, Iowa, but was overpowered by the rest of the
pack while reloading his gun. Thirty-two years had passed since
wolves killed two men near New Rockford, North Dakota, and nearly
80 years since 14 fatal attacks occurred within three years in
Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Ohio, 13 of them attributed to just one
The only documented victim in Canada since the 19th century
was Kenton Joel Carnegie, 22, a surveyor who was killed and
partially eaten near Prince Albert, Saskatch-ewan in November 2005.
Berner’s death helped to give political cover to Alaska
governor Sean Parnell, who is serving the balance of former governor
Sarah Palin’s term, and Alaska Fish & Game Commissioner Denby Lloyd.
Parnell in February 2010 nominated Fairbanks trapper Allen
Barrette, 44, to the Alaska Board of Game. Barrette owns a fur
tannery and a business that sells traps. His appointment was vetoed
by the Alaska Legislature on April 9, 31-27.
Lloyd, three days lafter Berner was killed, replaced
Alaska Division of Wildlife Conservation director Doug Larson with
Corey Rossi, a friend of Sarah Palin.
Lloyd, a Palin appointee, in January 2009 created the post
of “assistant commissioner for abundance management and hired Rossi
to fill it. Rossi prevously spent 20 years with the USDA Animal &
Plant Health Inspection Service.
Thirty-nine retired Alaska Depart-ment of Fish & Game
biologists and supervisors co-signed a letter protesting Rossi’s
appointment. “We are concerned that this high-profile leadership
change is a signal that professional management will be replaced by a
simplistic abundance management model where maximum production of
wild game meat is the state of Alaska’s single, overriding
objective,” the co-signers declared.
Within a week of Rossi’s promotion, Alaska Department of
Fish & Game helicopter gunners exterminated the four-member Webber
Creek wolf pack near the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve,
despite seeing that two of the wolves had been radio-collared as part
of a federal study. The department hoped to kill 185 wolves by April
30, but was 70 short of quota and was having difficulty tracking
wolves to shoot due to a lack of fresh snow. The department claimed
to have killed the Webber Creek pack due to a misunderstanding over
interagency protocol and confusion over the collars’ radio
The National Park Service a week later held hearings on a
proposal to prohibit state officials from killing black bear cubs and
sow bears with cubs in their dens. The Alaska Board of Game
authorized the den killing in November 2008.