An unusual incident and troubling for those who don't carry some sort of deterrent (pepper spray or handgun) in the winter. We put ours away while the bears are hibernating, but will probably rethink that in areas reporting wolves and coyotes.
Teacher likely killed by wolves, troopers say
By JAMES HALPIN
Alaska State Troopers today said a woman found dead in Chignik Lake early this week was killed in an animal attack, most likely by wolves, and state authorities are on their way there to try to capture or kill the animals.
"Investigation has determined that Candice Berner's death was non-criminal in nature," troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said in a statement. "An autopsy conducted today confirmed Ms. Berner died from injuries sustained in an animal attack. According to the State Medical Examiner, the manner of death is ''accidental'' and the cause of death is ''multiple injuries due to animal mauling.''
"After conferring with state biologists and the community of Chignik Lake, it has been concluded that the animals most likely responsible for the attack are wolves."
Troopers director Col. Audie Holloway said troopers investigating the scene found many wolf footprints around the body and bloody drag marks in the snow. Berner's body had been partially predated and had teeth marks on the throat, which was severely damaged and was the likely injury that caused her death, Holloway said.
Investigators were able to conclude after the autopsy that the animal injuries caused the death and were not inflicted post-mortem, he said.
"She was bleeding as she was being moved, being drug, and the damage to the throat," Holloway said. "The medical examiner concluded that she wasn't killed by any other method and that the damage to the throat was severe. There were animal bite marks on the throat.
"Wolves, just like big cats, usually attack the wind pipe area and try to control the victim that way."
It appeared the attack was predatory, motivated by wolves wanting something to eat, he said.
Holloway said troopers and Fish and Game biologists were on their way to Chignik Lake today planning to capture or kill the responsible wolves. They believe at least two or three were involved, he said.
"We'll stay as long as we can to make sure the public feels as safe as we can make them feel living in Alaska," he said.
Berner, a 32-year-old special-education teacher based in Perryville, was found dead Monday evening by a group on snowmachines traveling along a road outside Chignik Lake.
Berner, originally from Slippery Rock, Pa., stood about 4 feet, 11 inches tall and was an athletic person, an avid runner, according to her family. Officials from the Lake and Peninsula School District said Berner, who was new to Chignik Lake, left work at the end of the day Monday to go for a run.
The snowmachiners came across the scene of her death a short time later. They reported seeing gloves in the road, blood and Berner's body having been dragged off the road down a hill. Parts of her body had been mangled, they said.
In the wake of the death, villagers began hunting for wolves in the area, which they say have been coming increasingly closer to town in search of food.