ANCHORAGE - The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is preparing to cull wolves from packs that are becoming more aggressive and worrying residents near east Anchorage and Eagle River.
The wolves are showing they are losing their fear of humans, regional supervisor Mark Burch told the Anchorage Daily News.
On Halloween, a pet beagle was dragged off at an Eagle River home and the next day the owner found a bloody spot in the snow with wolf prints. A few days later a neighbor found a wolf on her deck.
"When a pack of wolves is literally scouting a neighborhood and has dragged off a family's pet from their backyard, I think it is fair to expect something to be done about it, in a swift, effective manner," Eagle River resident Candis Olmstead wrote in a letter to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
"I really hope that an action plan to eliminate this problem will be acted upon before another pet- or God forbid, a child - is killed."
Two wolf packs roam each side of the Glenn Highway, Burch said. He estimates the west-side group, known as the Elmendorf pack, has four to six adults with pups while the east-side group, know as the Ship Creek pack, has at least six adults.
In February, state biologists put radio collars on two wolves; one is still intact and transmitting. It shows the smaller wolf pack ranging from Ship Creek to near Peters Creek, he said. Normally, the animals stay on Fort Richardson land but sometimes venture off.
"These particular wolves are showing a pattern where they're losing a fear of humans. We're getting more reports of problems with pets. They're showing aggression," Burch said. "We're definitely not taking a wait-and-see attitude."
Anchorage wolves that behave aggressively will be shot by state or military wildlife officers "if they can be taken in a safe and humane manner," Burch said.
"That could include trapping. Trapping can be an efficient way to kill wolves. The cons are that non-target wildlife or pets could be caught. That would be very unfortunate, but public safety is a very high priority."
Wolves typically avoid humans. But an attack in March killed a schoolteacher jogging near Chignik.
In May, two women and a black Labrador mix were running in the Artillery Road area of Fort Richardson, according to a report filed with military police, when they encountered two wolves. The runners turned around, but the wolves gave chase, forcing the women to climb trees. One woman said one of the wolves showed its teeth. Nobody was injured, but neither woman felt safe enough to descend for two hours.
At least six wolves were killed by cars along a roughly half-mile stretch of the Glenn Highway between Anchorage and Eagle River last fall and winter, according to Fish and Game. Normally, vehicle collisions with wolves are rare.
The latest incident on Halloween when neighbors Chris and Sara Dunlap's beagle reportedly was dragged into the woods.