State Works to Remove Aggressive Wolves Near Port Heiden
Residents of Port Heiden on the Alaska Peninsula have asked the Alaska Department of Public Safety and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) for help with aggressive wolves that have been killing pets and approaching people in frequent visits to the community.
“Due to the threats to public safety, the state has decided to take action and remove wolves in the vicinity as soon as possible,” said Joseph Masters, Commissioner of Public Safety. “We have been developing a coordinated effort for the community.”
Residents report that wolf numbers, attacks on domestic animals, and threatening behavior toward people is increasing. Wolves have killed 5 dogs and 2 cats this year, including 2 dogs during the last few days. Villagers have killed 6 wolves in the vicinity of the village since August. Currently there is not enough snow on the ground and local waterways have not frozen enough to allow local residents to safely travel by snow-machine, which hampers their efforts to take wolves.
“It is a serious situation,” said Bruce Dale, Region IV, supervisor ADF&G. “Local residents feel threatened and say there are too many wolves for them to get the situation under control.”
Expert pilots will back-trail wolf tracks to locate wolves that have been involved in the village incidents. The animals will be shot from a helicopter in locations away from the community to maximize safety for local residents. The exact number of wolves involved is unknown. Weather and snow conditions will determine when the removals occur.
Lem Butler, ADF&G Area Biologist in King Salmon, flew to the community on Monday to gather information on reported wolf incidents from residents and distribute information on keeping people and pets safe.
“The frequency, aggressive nature, and number of wolves involved in the attacks is unacceptable from a public safety standpoint,” said Butler.
Port Heiden, a community of over 100 inhabitants 450 miles southwest of Anchorage, is less than 50 miles from Chignik Lake where Candice Berner was killed by wolves last March. That tragedy has heightened the awareness of the seriousness of the situation.