Alaska woman killed in animal attack

Officials say victim's mauling was most likely by wolves

Posted: Friday, March 12, 2010

ANCHORAGE - Alaska State Troopers on Thursday said a woman found dead in Chignik Lake this week was killed in an animal attack, most likely by wolves.

"Investigation has determined that Candice Berner's death was noncriminal in nature," troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said in a statement. "An autopsy conducted today confirmed Ms. Berner died from injuries sustained in an animal attack. According to the State Medical Examiner, the manner of death is 'accidental' and the cause of death is 'multiple injuries due to animal mauling.' After conferring with state biologists and the community of Chignik Lake, it has been concluded that the animals most likely responsible for the attack are wolves."

Peters said the case is closed.

Berner, a 32-year-old special education teacher based in Perryville, was found dead Monday evening by a group on snowmachiners traveling along a road outside Chignik Lake.

Berner, originally from Slippery Rock, Pa., stood about 4 feet, 11 inches tall and was an athletic person, an avid runner, according to her family. Officials from the Lake and Peninsula School District said Berner, who was new to Chignik Lake, left work at the end of the day Monday to go for a run.

The snowmachiners came across the scene of her death a short time later.

They reported seeing gloves in the road, blood and Berner's body having been dragged off the road down a hill. Parts of her body had been mangled, they said.

In the wake of the death, villagers began hunting for wolves in the area, which they say have been coming increasingly closer to town in search of food.

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