State says wolf shows signs to habituation to humans

Posted: Friday, May 12, 2000

JUNEAU (AP) -- A wolf that attacked a six-year-old boy in Icy Bay had behavior indicating it was habituated to human food and had lost its fear of people, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

That familiarity with humans likely contributed to the attack, according to the department.

A necropsy on the wolf carcass indicated no other physical reasons that would explain the animal's behavior, but also found no evidence it was eating human food.

''These are wild animals and when you break the barrier between predators and humans through the enticement of a free meal, it creates a very dangerous situation'' Frank Rue, commissioner of fish and game, said in a statement Wednesday.

According to the department, a fish and game biologist documented a wolf-feeding incident five years from the Icy Bay logging camp a year before the attack there. The following day, in April 1999, the wolf involved in the attack was seen at the feeding site and showed no fear of people. An investigation by the Alaska State Troopers also related that people from the camp had seen the wolf occasionally and noted its lack of fear.

Six-year-old John Stenglein was attacked April 26 and suffered bites on his back, buttocks and legs.

The necropsy found the 4-year-old wolf was in ''excellent condition'' overall, with good teeth and healthy deposits of fat around its organs.

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