KETCHIKAN (AP) -- Hungry wolves are killing dogs in the Ketchikan area, according to a state wildlife management biologist.
At least four dogs have been killed in the past month, said biologist Boyd Porter. It appears that a pack of wolves that has always come close to town now has become skilled at killing dogs, he said.
Some of the dogs that were killed were accompanied by people, Porter said. The four deaths occurred north of the city.
Although it's not unusual to have wolves kill and eat one or two dogs annually, the numbers appear higher this year, he said, probably because the wolves are having a harder time finding deer to eat. A lack of snow this winter has allowed deer to roam a wider-than-normal territory.
Porter said some of the dogs that were killed were out of sight of their owners, but within earshot. In one case, the owner heard a yip, a few barks and then silence. Nothing was found but some blood and hair.
It is unusual for wolves to be so bold, Porter said. They generally will not come that close to humans, but these particular wolves ''are willing to tolerate people in closer quarters than they normally would.''
Porter said his office also is looking into two possible wolf kills near Carlanna Lake Road within Ketchikan city limits.
''The home range of that pack probably encompasses all of Ketchikan proper,'' he said.
In addition to dog deaths, Porter said there have been reports of wolf sightings and signs of wolves on area trails. Those include trails in the popular Ward Lake area.
Porter cautioned people to be careful when hiking with their dogs. Keep pets under immediate control, he said, and don't let them run loose at night or even during the day.
If hikers and their dogs encounter a wolf, the first thing they should do is get the dog under control. Then, Porter said, make as much noise as possible.
He said the wolves likely will remain in the area through the first week of April. After that, the pack will move away from town to its denning site.
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