It has been the common view that 22-year old Kenton Carnegie was killed by a wolf pack northern Saskatchewan back 2005, becoming the only documented victim of such an attack in North America.

Testimony from carnivore expert Paul Paquet has now cast doubt on that belief. Paquet says it was most likely a bear that got him. Another expert, representing the young man’s parents disagreed.

Story: Expert says man killed by bear, not wolves. Chris Purdy. CanWest News Service

Update. Student’s death confirmed as continent’s first fatal wolf attack. (bad link restored) Chris Purdy. CanWest News Service. The jury in the coroner’s inquest decided the evidence indicated Carnegie died from a wolf attack.

“Now that Carnegie’s wolf-related death is official, his father said he hopes people will give up any notion that wolves are cute and cuddly wildlife.”

I don’t think many people think wolves are cuddly. It would be interested to know more about Carnegie’s father, such as if he has an axe to grind. As for myself — wolves or bear — he got caught in bad situation in a place were wild animals had learned to associate people with food.

Update Nov. 5. The debate over what killed Kenton Carnegie continues. Wolf experts disagree with inquest, blame bear for mauling. By
Larissa Liepins , CanWest News Service; with files from Saskatoon StarPhoenix

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

10 Responses to Young man thought to be victim of wolf really killed and eaten by bear, expert says

  1. avatar TallTrent says:

    Jury says wolves, but animal experts say bear. I really don’t see this as a decided or settled issue yet.

  2. I thought that the coroner, being the expert, made the final decision of the cause of death. It seems strange to me that a jury was basically assigned to the coroner to interpret the evidenceand/or facts. Or, perhaps I do not understand the process….

  3. avatar TallTrent says:

    The more I hear about this, the more I think that there was an effort to make sure the wolves were blamed for the death. Wildlife biologists that have seen bear deaths call it a bear death. It seems pretty hard to ignore that kind of testimony and still blame the wolves based on conjecture and coincidence.

  4. avatar Linda Hunter says:

    Too bad a tracker can’t make a living defending animals who get the death sentence from an “attack”. The truth is very hard to get at in death’s such as this. . animals eat dead things, but knowing if it was dead first or which animal killed it is a thing no one seems to be an expert on. You had to be there, or be able to read the scene with accuracy. For instance, you could drop a person from a small plane in bear habitat and that person would die of “blunt tramma” but it would be easy to say it was a bear mauling and find remains in the stomach of the bear, or even a raven.
    Probably if a moose killed someone, and a bear ate it, the bear would die, not the moose. I recently went to the International Society of Professional Trackers gathering and saw a presentation by the South African group who do Cybertracker. They have a North American Tracking group who do field tracking evaluations. In one recent event they had a group of biologists that took the test. . they realized what they didn’t know about tracking. This kind of program will increase the knowledge of our wildlife biologists so they don’t have to guess. When that happens the animal predation events on humans will be better documented.

  5. Do they have flying bears in Saketchevan? Otherwise there would have been a set of tracks leading away from the scene. The bear have 5 toes, a wolf 4. The markings and feeding damage to the body was consistent with wolves. The tracks showed that Carnegie got to his feet at east three times. A bear would not have allowed that. Read Mark McNays report if you can get hold of it.
    Why are even scientists so afraid to acknowledge that wolves kill people under certain circumstances? That knowledge is deep there wolves are common and prey scarce.

  6. avatar Thomas Goggans says:

    I am in no way eager to blame wolves for this unfortunate attack, and support re-introduction in the United States. However, those who refuse to accept that this attack was by wolves are not acting with any logical reasoning.
    After researching the case it is clear, there were NO bear tracks at the scene of the attack, there were NONE along the path the body was drug. There was not even a sigle bear print in the whole surrounding area! If there were no bear tracks in the snow at the site or even the surrounding area, then it is IMPOSSIBLE for it to have been a bear. As unfortunate as it is, this man was killes by wolves.

  7. avatar Lori says:

    I have personally reviewed all of the materials involved and I know for certain that wolves were responsible for Kenton’s death. There is only one person responsible for introducing any other theory and unfortunatley he is being motivated by his own personal agenda.

  8. avatar TallTrent says:

    Paul Paquet presented at the North American Wolf Conference at Chico Hot Springs, MT last week. He laid out a very reasonable case against wolves killing Carnegie. Paquet didn’t say that wolves couldn’t have done it, but that there is no strong evidence that they did. He also pointed out that there is just as much evidence of a bear being responsible as there is for wolves.

    First off, the investigation was bungled and biased from the beginning. With no evidence what-so-ever the conclusion was pre-determined that wolves had killed Carnegie.

    “I thought that the coroner, being the expert, made the final decision of the cause of death.” The coroner is this case is not an expert, it’s an elected position. (Elected coroners are quite common in the western US and apparently in Canada.) The coroner’s husband worked at the Points North Station and was the first to contact her, unofficially, and told her that wolves had killed a man and that she would be getting an official call soon. Again, clear bias being shown immediately in the case.

    “There is only one person responsible for introducing any other theory and unfortunatley he is being motivated by his own personal agenda.” This is a false statement. Paquet and the forensic anthropologist, Dr. Ernie Walker, in their investigation that a large predator had killed Carnegie, but there was not any evidence of it being wolves. There is as much evidence of it being a bear, but that is also inconclusive.

    “there were NO bear tracks at the scene of the attack, there were NONE along the path the body was drug. There was not even a sigle bear print in the whole surrounding area! If there were no bear tracks in the snow at the site or even the surrounding area, then it is IMPOSSIBLE for it to have been a bear” This is also a false statement. Paquet had a picture that was taken in the immediate area around the attack, just twelve hours later, that showed bear tracks (along with wolves and fox tracks) very clearly. Bears that have access to food will delay, or extreme cases forgo, denning and open garbage pits in the area are food for bears. Bear activity in the area is common into December.

    What was most telling to me was that the body had been dragged so far. (50 m or so). It is much more characteristic of a predatory bear attack. Wolves tend to eat where they make the kill while bears are often known to drag a carcass to a more secluded place to feed. I was also stunned by the photos showing the peeling away of Carnegie’s pants. When the elk calf mortality studies were done in Yellowstone National Park, the major indicator of bear-caused mortality was a banana-peeling effect on the carcass of the elk calf and seeing the photos in Paquet’s presentation immediately reminded me of that.

    When I have more time I will pull out my notes from Paquet’s presentation, but as I said before and believe even stronger now, “The more I hear about this, the more I think that there was an effort to make sure the wolves were blamed for the death. Wildlife biologists that have seen bear deaths call it a bear death. It seems pretty hard to ignore that kind of testimony and still blame the wolves based on conjecture and coincidence.”

  9. avatar Pasi says:

    Other expert says it was wolf and other says, it may be wolf or bear.

    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/saskatchewan/story/2007/11/01/wolf-verdict.html

    Paul Paquet, an expert on wolf biology who studied the case for the coroner’s office, told the inquest earlier in the week that it was more likely that a black bear killed Carnegie, although a wolf attack was also a possibility.

    He said he based his findings on all the evidence, including the way the body had been consumed and moved around.

    But his evidence didn’t jibe with what people on the scene observed. No one reported seeing a bear in the area.

    Another wolf expert, Mark McNay, who had studied the case for Carnegie’s family, told the jury he was convinced it was a wolf attack.

  10. Pasi,

    Dr. Paul Pacquet give a very interesting presentation on this death last April at the annual North American wolf conference at Chico Hot Springs, Montana. “Tall Trent” has notes about it earlier in this thread.

    Pacquet give convincing evidence that the young man had been fed on only by a bear. As for the cause of death, an FBI forensic psychologist who happened to be in the audience raised enough questions about the situation to cause numerous people in audience to conclude the young man was not killed by wolves or a bear. It was probably a homicide, and the body was not examined in situ for enough time to make sure investigating animals had fed on him or disturbed the evidence.

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