Bold wolves in Anchorage attack dogs, frighten joggers

Posted: Sunday, December 23, 2007

ANCHORAGE - A wolf pack surrounded three joggers and attacked one of their dogs in the latest of a series of bold attacks near Alaska's largest city.

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A dog on a chain also was killed Thursday and a spokesman for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said the same pack may be responsible for both attacks.

The dog in its own yard in Eagle River on Anchorage's north side was killed first Thursday morning.

A few hours later, the second attack occurred less than a mile away as three women and their dogs were running on a well-used stretch of road.

It was so quick, the three friends at first didn't know what was happening.

"They were so quiet. They just came right up on us. They were quick. The dogs had no clue. They didn't smell them or hear them - nothing," Alycia Beiergrohslein told KTVA-TV.

At least seven wolves surrounded the three women and their dogs as they jogged on Artillery Road. The lead wolves came within feet, circling the women as they tried to get away. They were only slightly deterred by pepper spray.

"I was rainbowing my pepper spray, and they fell back a little bit," said Camas Barkemeyer. "But as soon as we would turn our backs to try to go, they would run up on us, and we would turn around and start screaming again, and I would spray my pepper spray.

"We just kept pulling, and they were so big, and they started howling, and they were circling us. And it got us really panicked, and we kept screaming."

Beiergrohslein, Barkemeyer and the third jogger were more than a mile and a half away from their cars. The women had read the warnings about other wolf attacks and kept their dogs on leashes.

As the wolves circled, the women walked backward, screaming to keep the animals away, and trying to keep everyone safe.

"I love my dog with all my heart, but I can't jeopardize my friends. And if that's what they wanted, I didn't know whether to leave him," Beiergrohslein said.

The women held tight to the leashes, and were able to keep the wolves at bay, but not before the pack attacked Barkemeyer's American bulldog, Buddy.

"My dog was attacked by the wolves, three wolves," Barkemeyer said. "He fought his way out as I was pulling."

The women were not physically hurt. Buddy underwent surgery to mend gashes and bites left by the wolves. Barkemeyer said she worries the pack could attack again.

"They were not afraid of us," she said. "And I'm afraid that if I was out here by myself, they would attack me. They were not afraid."

Wildlife experts say wolves learn quickly.

"If they figure out that dogs are easy to kill, and good food for them, then they can just come to the conclusion that there is a lot more dogs than moose, and 'Let's just start eating the dogs for now," said Rick Sinnott, a state biologist. "I'm not sure they have quite reached that point, but they are working on that concept right now."

A dog accompanying two people on the northern edge of Anchorage was killed in late November. Earlier this month, a wolf carried off a 9-year-old Nova Scotia duck-tolling retriever that was trailing 30 feet behind its owner on a road on Fort Richardson Army Post, also on Anchorage's north side.

Sinnott said dogs were attacked 13 years ago by the same pack. The wolves stopped attacking dogs when key pack members were trapped and killed.

State officials are encouraging the military to scare the wolves from the area with rubber bullets or pepper balls.



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