Tests to begin on wolves taken from Chignik Lake Village
March 17, 2010 - Two wolves were taken March 16 through Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G) aerial response efforts by department personnel in the Village of Chignik Lake. The wolves match descriptions of those seen at the recent fatality site of Candice Berner. One wolf was lighter than the other, with one wolf appearing to be in better shape than the other. They were taken in the Chignik drainage. No fresh wolf tracks had been reported near town. Ground efforts by local hunters had remained unsuccessful yesterday due to terrain and conditions. The department is operating under the Commissioner's authority for management, research, and public safety while ground efforts continue by local hunters. ADF&G efforts did not conclude yesterday and were resumed today.
Both wolves are currently being flown to King Salmon and will then be transported to State Wildlife Veterinarian, Dr. Kimberlee Beckmen. Dr. Beckmen will then transport the specimens to the Alaska State Virology Lab to be tested for rabies through a coordinated effort between ADF&G and Public Health. Microbiologists at the Alaska Virology Laboratory in Fairbanks, which is operated through the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Division of Public Health, will study the animals' brains to look for rabies. Rabies is a virus that can be transmitted from rabid animals to either other animals or people through primarily bite wounds. The virus attacks the central nervous system; without prompt treatment, rabies is fatal. Rabies is known to be consistently present in foxes, and episodically present in wolves in the Chignik Lake area.
The wolves will also undergo complete necropsy with forensic examination and genetic sampling to determine if these wolves can be linked to the recent fatality.
Any other biological information obtained from these specimens will useful in determining the overall condition of the wolves associated with the recent fatality and the general condition of wolves in the area.