Conservationists have long assuaged the public’s fear of wolves by saying that there have been no documented instances of a healthy wild wolf killing a human being in North America. Until now, that is.
On Nov. 8, a search
party found the partially consumed body of 22-year-old Kenton Joel
Carnegie in the woods of northern Saskatchewan. Carnegie had gone
for a walk and didn’t return to the surveyors camp where he
Paul Paquet, a University of Calgary
ecologist who investigated the case, says a recent increase in
energy development has drawn more people to the remote area and
left it peppered with open garbage dumps. Four wolves fed regularly
at a nearby dump and had lost their natural fear of people.
Those wolves are the most likely culprits, and at least
three have been killed. But investigators have not yet ruled out
the possibility of a bear attack.
To prevent wolves from
becoming accustomed to humans, Paquet advises securing any food
left in dumps or campsites. People should stay at least 100 yards
from wolves, he says.
In the United States, there are
some open dumps in wolf country, says Fish and Wildlife Service
wolf recovery coordinator Ed Bangs. But, he adds, many people
already bear-proof their garbage, and authorities haze overly bold
wolves with noise-making "cracker shells" and rubber bullets.
Given that a handful of fatal wolf attacks have been
recorded in India and Europe, experts say such an attack in North
America has always been a possibility. But the odds are
extraordinarily low, points out L. David Mech, a leading wolf
biologist: "Wolves are still not any more dangerous than they ever