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FAIRBANKS - A Fairbanks wolf biologist testified at a recent Canadian coroner's inquest in what has been declared North America's first documented fatal attack by a wild, healthy wolf or wolves.
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Mark McNay testified in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, that he was certain that wolves killed Kenton Carnegie two years ago. McNay retired from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game three months ago.
After three days of testimony, a six-person jury agreed with McNay. The testimony included photos and details of how Carnegie was killed and then eaten by a pack of four wolves at a remote mining camp in northern Saskatchewan.
Humans have been killed by rabid and captive wolves in North America before. There also have been many documented cases of fatal wolf attacks in India.
Carnegie, a 22-year-old engineering student from Ontario, was found dead on Nov. 8, 2005, at the Points North Landing supply depot. Co-workers found his mauled body - surrounded by wolf tracks in the snow - in the brush only about a half-mile from the camp.
No one witnessed the attack, but searchers reported hearing wolves howling and seeing wolf-like eyes glowing in the dark when they went to retrieve the body. Wolf bite marks also were found on the body, which had been partially eaten.
Wolves had been seen feeding in an open garbage dump at the mining camp and had become habituated to humans, based on reports from residents. Four days before Carnegie's death, two other men at the camp were approached by what they described as aggressive wolves. The men used sticks to fend off the animals.
Wolves initially were suspected of killing Carnegie. But a top Canadian wolf and bear biologist, Paul Paquet of the University of Calgary, said the evidence pointed to a black bear, not wolves. Paquet cited the pattern of the attack, what parts of Carnegie's body were eaten and the dragging of his body about 50 feet from the kill site.
"Our primary conclusion was that his death was from a large predator attack and there are only two large predators in the area - black bears and wolves," Paquet said in a phone interview with the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. "We couldn't come to a definitive decision but we felt a preponderance of evidence was that it was a black bear."
Carnegie's family, however, disagreed and contacted McNay in January, more than a year after their son's death, to review evidence in the case.