Alaskan military base's wolves 'are different', dangerous

Anchorage Daily NewsFebruary 9, 2011 

Since August, biologists with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the military have been looking to kill off or drastically thin two packs of wolves -- maybe 12 animals in all -- that roam Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and around the edges of Eagle River. They say the animals have become increasingly aggressive with humans and dogs.

One wolf has been shot so far. A trapping effort began a few weeks ago. There are plans to possibly shoot the wolves from helicopters if other efforts fail.

To some people, that might sound extreme. I talked to a number of Eagle River neighbors who liked seeing wolves where they live. But as I learned more about some close encounters with the animals, it became clear that these aren't ordinary wolves.

Wolf aggression is rare, but the wolves that roam base land and some of Eagle River's neighborhoods are different, biologists say. They have been rewarded for coming into contact with people because they've found food, including dog food, trash and sometimes pets, which are a much easier kill than moose. At least one dog has been killed, others have been attacked and some pets have disappeared. Wolves are smart, social animals that learn behaviors from each other, biologists say. These wolves have become more brash with each generation.

"It really can't be undone," said Mark Burch, regional supervisor of Fish and Game's Division of Wildlife Conservation.

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