Wolves aggressively trail dogs with owners near Elmendorf, Alaska

This video is making the rounds. It seems that a wolf pack near Elmendorf, Alaska has become very aggressive toward local dogs; and this means the wolves have gotten very close to people in their effort to attack the dogs.


I can’t understand why this wolf pack has not been shot by local Game and Fish or whoever.

There are a number of points that need to be made here.

The wolves after the dogs, not their owners. There have been several similar incidents in the Northern Rockies. People tend to think the wolves are after them, but dogs interest wolves a lot more than people do. Nevertheless, a person could be attacked by a wolf if he or she gets between the wolf and the dog.

The women in this video had good reason to worry. The safest course would have been to abandon their dogs, but fortunately other than a scare, only a dog was injured.

If anyone knows this area, I would like to know why this wolf pack has not been controlled?

Update: It looks like this is a military area. Fort Rich closes wolf range. adn.com. The wolves seem to have moved on.

Further update 1-2-2008. This story is really all about dogs and wolves as the comments below reveal. Proponents of wolf fear/hatred are still trying to get this story rolling. The latest is this tear-jerker from a local TV station that made it to MSNBC, Wolves attack area dogs. by Rebecca Palsha. KTUU-TV.

Contrast the hysteria over this with the story on the coyote attacking 2 people in Yellowstone and the bobcat attack in Death Valley.

Coyote bites two in Yellowstone (my post on 1-1) 





  1. Dan Avatar

    I agree with what you are saying Ralph about why have they not been controlled. The thing I have a problem with is they have nothing but the bad to say about wolves. They don’t talk about the unlikely ness of a wolf attacking a person. It’s only the bad.

  2. Bob Ostler Avatar
    Bob Ostler

    “The wolves (were) after the dogs, not their owners.”
    Apparently this could change?

    Geist is credible. He ain’t no Friend of the Northern Elk Herd wacko.

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    These wolves are getting way to close to people to take a risk, Even though they are after the dogs, there have been attacks in the past where people have been injured in a fight between wolves and dogs.

    It’s important politically that wolves not harm any people. If they did, it would get more bad publicity than if a terrorist opened fire in a shopping mall. There are people out there who have been waiting for years for a wolf attack so they can try to spread fear.


    I haven’t seen any info about these wolves’ condition, so I don’t know if they are especially hungry or not.

    Wolves will attack dogs with perfectly full stomachs just as they kill coyotes who sneak up on their kill while the wolves are mostly off sleeping. Dogs are not common food prey and coyotes are rarely eaten, just torn up.

    This is a story today about some starving wolves in northern Canada threatening children. The wolves were shot. Story.

  4. Kathy Avatar

    CNN covered this story this morning, and to their credit, followed it with “myth busters” about wolves. They provided some hard facts. Bravo to them! I agree with you, Ralph. This pack needs to be “controlled.” Unfortunately, this will probably just add fuel to justify shooting wolves from the air.

  5. cowboy the cat Avatar

    Ralph, I don’t know enough about wolf behavior and ecology to answer this question, help me out: Is there some reason why wolves can not be “trained” to avoid humans through similar methods as were discussed in the earlier post about problem bears? Is it just that wolf/human interactions are so isolated that it makes it difficult to do?

  6. Bill Horn Avatar
    Bill Horn

    Can’t they be relocated? Seems we always want to destroy wildlife for behaving naturally. I disagree that they need to be ‘destroyed’. Good grief.

  7. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    The news since I wrote that is that the area has been closed to the pubic by the Army and the wolves have moved on anyway.

    Looking for more news on Google Earth doesn’t show anything new. Maybe there is less to than sorry than it seemed.

  8. TallTrent Avatar


    “The wolf encounters began Nov. 28, when a couple was walking with three dogs along the Alaska Railroad tracks near Eklutna. Sinnott said the dogs chased a large black wolf, which had appeared on the trail 50 yards ahead of the couple. One of the dogs was killed, and the others returned, when called by their owners.”

    It seems that this all started with three dogs attacking the wolves. It is a very classic case of wolves defending their territory from canine invaders. Wolves attack and kills dogs, coyotes, and other wolves in territorial disputes. This first encounter with aggressive dogs has led to some retaliation on the part of the wolves.

  9. Sally Roberts Avatar
    Sally Roberts

    Seems like these wolves are a little too brave. Why take the chance of them killing more dogs, or even attacking a person. We are all so focused on the fact that wolves don’t attack humans. While it is unlikely, they are wild animals that when habituated, could act unpredictably. What about the guy at the mine in Canada? They killed him didn’t they?

  10. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    As TallTrent indicates, and it’s hardly a surprise, this entire matter began with a wolf pack/ “dog pack” interaction.

    This has happened time after time after time now, with the media usually focusing on the humans who were in the minds of the wolves, likely perceived as mere accompaniments of the enemy dogs.

  11. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    I just talked to my daughter, presently working in Anchorage-lives in Cordova, Alaska, about this situation. She says that she does not here anything about this locally, a non-issue. People are way more interested in the wolf pack around Fairbanks that have been adding dogs to the dinner menu.

  12. Dan Stebbins Avatar

    It’s not out of character for wolves to go after dogs in their territory. Genetically speaking they are the same animal, and dogs are viewed as a threat to wolves’ territory.

    Just for the record though while watching this video did everyone see the sign that was posted at the trailhead warning everyone that a dog had previously been attacked on that trail on the date of 12-5? Also it was interesting to note that the voice over mentioned that the women kept their dog on a leash because they knew about the wolves on that trail.

    So although I’m glad these three women & their dog are safe, I gotta ask… what on earth were you thinking???

  13. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Yes, I thought the prudent thing to do, and though now we are glad they didn’t, was to abandon their dogs.

    The wolves would have immediately lost interest in the women, but the dogs would be dead.

  14. Jane Avatar

    trolling for wolves were they?

  15. Mike Post Avatar
    Mike Post

    I agree that we should not kill every animal that poses a potential threat but large predators need to be conditioned to fear humans. If the controlled hunting program does not accomplish this (or just doesn’t exist) then these animals need to be humanely harrassed in order to instill a fear of humans. That is the only way both populations will stay alive.

    I saw the Alaskan film clip. I almost think the women’s interviews were scripted for maximum anti-wolf impact.

  16. Dan Stebbins Avatar

    I’m not sure it was that sinister as “maximum anti-wolf impact”. We all know that the media is going to sensationalize anything & make it seem worse or scarier than it is so they can get people to watch or read their news.

    This was undoubtedly scary for the women involved, but they made the conscious decision to walk that trail with their dogs with the posted warning.
    Life is a contact sport and you need to make informed decisions for yourself. Those women have to take responsibility for their actions.

    On the other hand aversive conditioning would definitely be in order here.

  17. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    The tiger story knocked the wolf story off the news. A lot of folks were probably disappointed.

  18. vicki Avatar

    I think it is mor releveant (the tiger story) because it is more likely to occur than a human being killed by a wolf in the wild. I could be wrong though.
    Either way, putting yourself in harm’s way may get you harmed! I think habituated wolves, bears, cougars…need to be dealt with. But I think the people who enable that behavior should also.
    Just like the tiger , they think that one kid who survived the attack may have taunted the tiger. They found a shoe print on the wall the animal jumped (or so I read). So I think the kid should be tried for man slaughter. His friend died saving hime from the very tiger he or his brother provoked. Therefore, he caused the circumstance that caused a death. (along with the neglegence of the idiots that didn’t make the wall holding the tiger high enough!)
    Stupidity isn’t a defense. And it wouldn’t be if those who chose to walk heir dogs there were killed either. They knew they were at risk, and chose to behave stupidly. It’s kind of like a doctor making a patient sign an affidavidt of informed consent. They were informed of a risk, and assumed that risk with knowledge and foresight. Therefore the wolf isn’t liable, like a doctor isn’t, unless they did so with malice or neglegence. Since wolves have no concept of marality, they obviously aren’t capable of malice or foresight.
    They should prosecute people who don’t use appropriate trash containers in bear areas. (Like those who enabled the bear who killed the boy in Utah last summer.) We blame the bear though we taught it this behavior. We fault the wolves for being wolves.
    We don’t prosecute people who defend themselves instinctively from intruders. Yet we hold a wolf accountable for following it’s instincts.
    I think if more people were held responsible for their own behavior, fewer would take stupid chances and cry foul when it went bad.

  19. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    If you think about the wilds, however, so-called “man-eating” tigers put those ravenous wolf packs “to shame.”

  20. vicki Avatar

    Absolutely true.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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