The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is warning residents with pets and livestock to take precautions after a dog was killed by a wolf sometime Monday morning.
The dog was found dead near the Elliott Highway end of Old Murphy Dome Road and reported to Fish and Game around 1 p.m. Monday, according to Tony Hollis, a Fairbanks area biologist for the department. Hollis said a single wolf was later spotted nearby, and the department is monitoring the situation.
“The dog had been missing since the morning. The owners went out looking for it and found the dog dead,” Hollis said. “There was a helicopter in the area that flew over the kill sight and saw a wolf right near it.”
Hollis said reports like this are rare but that it’s not unusual for wolves to be in the area.
“We get reports of wolves in that area commonly. Multiple times every year,” he said. “It’s normal for wolves to be in that area, it happens regularly. Summer to winter. It is rare for them to kill a dog; that doesn’t happen regularly.”
“We’re going to keep an eye on the situation for sure,” he added.
Hollis said the department received a report on Tuesday of a pack four wolves just south of where the dog was killed in the Goldstream area. He said there is “usually” a pack of wolves in that area and it’s possible that the lone wolf is part of that pack.
A resident who spotted this pack posted on a Goldstream community Facebook group to warn others of its presence.
“Spotted a pack of 4 wolves running across Goldstream and up Waterford yesterday,” the resident wrote, adding, “Lock up your chickens and goats?”
This sentiment is one of many pieces of advice that Fish and Game is encouraging residents on the outskirts of Fairbanks to abide — particularly in winter. If a resident feels that wolves are threatening them or their property, the department asks that they report the situation by calling 459-7206. The department also provided various safety tips for pets and livestock.
“In the recent past there have been several cases where wolves have come into cities, towns and villages around the state and have killed and eaten dogs that were either off leash or chained outside,” a public notice states. “Most of those cases occurred in winter and were related to low numbers or low vulnerability of wolves’ natural prey.”
The following precautions are recommended for pet and livestock owners living in areas known to be occupied by wolves:
• Indoor shelter options for animals during hours of darkness — for example: dog houses, sheds or barns.
• Chain link fences around dog yards and overwinter livestock areas.
• Electric fences around dog yards and livestock areas.
• Lights around dog yards and livestock areas.
• Clearing brush to provide a perimeter clear of concealing vegetation around dog yards or livestock areas.
• Noise makers.
Hollis also pointed out that wolf hunting season is open and that the Goldstream area is in Unit 20B. The season goes from Aug. 10 to May 31, and licensed members of the public are allowed to take wolves in the area.
“Very few wolves are harvested during that hunt. They’re just not seen very often,” he said. “We have a higher harvest in the winter when trapping season opens, but very few are harvested with rifles.”
Hollis noted that the wolf population in Units 20A and 20B is healthy and not fluctuating, which he puts down to a healthy and stable moose population.
“All the edges of town, there’s wolves around. The south side of town, the east side of town,” Hollis said.
Contact staff writer Alistair Gardiner at 459-7575. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMoutdoors.