|Manhunters: A killing in
Canada puts an end to the myth that wolves won't harm humans
(Very Important Note: For all those that have read that wolves have not killed anyone in North America, see the photos of Kenton Joel Carnegie here: http://www.mtechservices.ca/Kenton/thumbpictures.html This 22-year-old young man's parents and family are still in the throes of terrible grief. It would appear that the real predators are the two-legged ones with an agenda to bring to fruition rather than the four-legged predators that are just doing what comes naturally. Large predators are not asking to be raised in captivity, bred for as much size as possible, and "re" introduced in areas they never existed historically. This is the hand of "man" at work, putting people, children, livestock, pets, and wildlife directly in harm's way by such actions.)
By Andrew McKean
Outdoor Life Magazine / Hunting article
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Timber wolves are a common sight at Points North Landing, an industrial outpost carved out of northern Saskatchewan’s spruce and jackpine taiga. They frequently lope across the airstrip, hang around outbuildings and scavenge in the camp’s unfenced garbage dump. Truckers often spot them along graveled Route 905, the only road in and out of the community.
Carnegie, a 22-year-old college student on a short-term contract to survey the area’s rich mineral deposits, was intrigued by the presence of wolves so close to the settlement. On one excursion into the woods near the compound, the Ontario man snapped photographs of nearly grown wolf pups. They approached to within just a few feet of him, leaving Carnegie curious, but decidedly uneasy about their proximity.
On November 6, Carnegie showed his photos around Points North’s mess hall. Bill Topping was one of a half-dozen people who saw the pictures.
“I had supper with him and his buddy and they had these photographs,” says Topping, a trucker who hauls freight between northern camps and La Ronge, the regional trade center 275 miles to the southwest. “I told him he was lucky to be alive. I told him these wolves up here are hungry and they don't fear people. They thought it was something to be that close to wolves.”
It was already dark. The gregarious student probably didn't realize he was in trouble until it was too late. About 600 yards from the camp, he turned around on the trail and apparently saw a pack of wolves following him.
When Carnegie’s mangled body was discovered around 7:30 p.m., prints in the bloody snow told a graphic story of coordinated pursuit, then violent predation. The footprints indicated that four wolves had shadowed Carnegie, who stopped, turned around and then tried to elude the animals before breaking into a terrified sprint for safety. The tracks suggest that the man was knocked to the ground at least twice but struggled to his feet before he was taken down a final time. The wolves reportedly fed on a portion of his body in the hour or so before a search party from camp discovered the grisly scene, scared the wolves away and recovered Carnegie’s remains.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who arrived to investigate the following morning, don't make their investigations public, but RCMP spokesperson Heather Russell says the incident is fairly straightforward.
“There is nothing to lead us to believe that death was caused by anything other than injuries consistent with canine bites,” she says. “There were wolves near the body and wolf tracks all around, and there’s a history of wolves in the area.”
There was also little doubt among eyewitnesses that wolves had stalked and killed the young man.
“It wasn't pretty,” says Topping. “It was just as though those wolves had taken down a moose or a caribou.”
Only it wasn't an animal. The wolves’ victim was a human, and the incident has stunned the conservation community, which has almost universally maintained that wolves don't, and won't, attack people.
Kenton Joel Carnegie was an unlikely candidate to be the first. Tall, lanky and inquisitive, the geological engineering student from Oshawa, Ontario, was in good health and had spent plenty of time outdoors, though none of it in wolf country. Carnegie was in the third week of a short-term contract to provide high-resolution aerial imaging for the mineral industry. Both gold and uranium are mined in northern Saskatchewan’s outback, and Carnegie was one of dozens of itinerant workers who service the industry from remote industrial hubs scattered across the region.
Points North Landing, where Carnegie bunked when he wasn't helping with surveys, is one of the largest of these service hubs. Built about 150 miles south of the Northwest Territories border, Points North looks and functions like a frontier railroad boomtown. Goods are trucked from La Ronge to the camp, then loaded onto aircraft to be flown to mine sites and a string of remote communities in the bush.
The camp features a well-maintained dirt airstrip, a bunkhouse, a mess hall and buildings for storage and equipment repair. While no more than a couple dozen technicians and maintenance workers live at the settlement, Points North is a conduit for several hundred workers who fly in and out of the camp to work shifts at the mines. All those workers generate a mountain of garbage, which is dumped in a clearing about a half mile from the camp.
According to Trottier, the wolves that killed Carnegie were acting less like wild timber wolves and more as opportunistic junkyard dogs. He is still surprised that they would stalk and kill a person but realizes they had become accustomed to living around humans and feeding on their refuse.
“These wolves lived in a very unnatural state, so it’s not that surprising that they might behave unnaturally,” says Trottier. “We don't consider this a widespread problem in Saskatchewan. It’s localized abnormal behavior associated with these dump sites.”
But Carnegie’s death isn't the only incident that involves garbage-dump wolves in Saskatchewan’s hinterland.
In January 2005, at a mine site less than 100 miles south of Points North, a 55-year-old Saskatoon man was attacked by a wolf at night as he jogged two miles from the Key Lake mine to the gated bunkhouse compound.
In the distance between the outposts, Fred Desjarlais reportedly heard a noise behind him and turned to see a lone wolf circling. After a brief standoff, the wolf lunged at Desjarlais’s head, fell to the ground and then sprang a second time. The wolf gripped the man’s back and started biting his shoulder.
The jogger told reporters that his heavy winter clothing prevented the wolf from doing serious damage, but his back suffered deep punctures and bruises. Unable to pull down Desjarlais, the wolf turned its attention to the man’s waist and lower body, biting the pelvic area before Desjarlais managed to grab the animal and put it in a headlock. Coworkers returning to the camp on a shuttle bus spotted Desjarlais and came to his aid. The wolf ran off into the woods. It was shot the next day.
Wolves around the Key Lake mine had been notorious garbage hounds for more than a decade. They were also brazen. In 1984, a wolf snapped at the sleeve of a worker in an attempt to steal his lunch. Last year a pack denned just a quarter mile from the camp’s gate. And during a visit to Key Lake just after the Desjarlais attack, Trottier counted 18 wolves on a ridge above the dump site, waiting for the garbage to arrive.
“To have that many wolves at one place in the winter is highly unnatural,” says the biologist. “In the wild, you might have six or eight wolves in a pack by the end of the winter, traveling a huge area to get enough to eat. These wolves didn't consider humans a threat so much as a food source. But habituated wolves still have the characteristics and instincts of large predators, and that spells problems for people.”
In response to the Key Lake attack, Trottier’s agency worked with the mine to clean up the dump and discourage wolves from loitering nearby. Visitors and camp staff are educated about wolves and, so far at least, wolves are keeping a healthy distance, though people still don't roam the area alone.
Too Many Wolves
“We have too many wolves, and they have depleted their natural prey to such an extent that they're seeking alternative food sources,” says Galloway, who operates a fishing and hunting lodge about 70 miles north of La Ronge. Galloway had his own wolf incident last fall. His 70-pound Airedale was killed and consumed by a wolf just 30 feet from his cabin door.
“That wolf was starving. It ate all but the ribcage and part of a hindquarter,” says Galloway. “If it had been a human instead of a dog, the human probably would have been in trouble.”
In Saskatchewan wolves are classified as furbearers, which allows trappers to harvest them but prohibits anyone from shooting them. The province has about 3,000 licensed trappers who annually harvest about 400 wolves.
“Nobody traps up here anymore,” says Topping. “The Indians don't shoot wolves like they used to and numbers just keep increasing.”
Galloway started outfitting in 1982 and claims there were no wolves in the area at the time. Gradually he saw more and more wolf sign and fewer moose. Only 30 percent of his hunters have tagged moose in the last five years, and he blames wolves for their depletion.
“There’s very little hunting pressure on moose and we have millions of acres of prime habitat,” says Galloway. “Their decline coincided with the arrival of wolves. What else could cause their decline but wolves?”
Game densities are even lower to the north, in the Wollaston Lake area near Points North Landing.
“There isn't even a rabbit up there,” stews Galloway. “So any predators up there are hungry. It’s no wonder they find the dumps. Wolves aren't naturally garbage eaters, and it takes years of associating people with easy food to break their fear.”
Trottier agrees, but he doesn't think the answer to what he terms a localized problem is a province-wide wolf-hunting season. “There are thousands of wolves in the province that have never seen a human or become habituated,” Trottier says. “Their population is in balance with their prey base. There’s no indication those wolves are creating any difficulty and they pose no threat.”
“If you look at the history of wolf attacks in North America, wild wolves just don't attack people, and I don't think the Canadian incidents change that,” says Bangs. “These were wild wolves that were turned into big dogs because they became habituated. Dogs kill about twenty people each year and put tens of thousands in the hospital. Wild wolves do their damnedest to stay away from people.”
But Bangs admits wolf behavior is complicated. They have a “behavioral plasticity,” he says, that can allow them to become domesticated, and in that transition from wild to mild, they can behave erratically.
“We recognize this in our recovery plans,” says Bangs. “Under the Endangered Species Act, if you're directly threatened by a wolf, you can kill it right then and there. Our rules also require us to respond to every habituated wolf report, and if we can't change the animal’s behavior with adverse conditioning -- rubber bullets work great for that -- then we remove that wolf from the population.”
Bangs’s work is nearly done. In 2002, wolves in the Northern Rockies reached recovery thresholds -- 30 breeding pairs spread over a designated range in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. Since then he’s been working with the three states on plans that would turn the job of wolf management over to state wildlife agencies.
“The Service strongly supports the hunting of wolves as a management tool,” Bangs says. “Hunting is the perfect way to keep the wolf from becoming a domestic dog.”
In the Rockies, wolves increasingly are getting into trouble. In part, that’s because their numbers are skyrocketing. In the latest census, conducted in December, the USFWS estimates at least 912 wolves in 66 breeding packs. The number of complaints is also rising. In 2004, the conservation group Defenders of Wildlife paid Western ranchers $133,662 in compensation for wolf-killed livestock, up from $5,701 in 1994.
Big-game populations are also being affected at an increasing rate. The famed Northern Yellowstone elk herd, for instance, has declined from about 14,500 head in 2000 to about 9,500 in 2005. Similar consequences for elk, deer and moose herds are being documented in other areas where wolf populations are especially robust. Of course, bears share much of the blame.
An extensive study of wolf attacks compiled by Alaska Fish and Game biologist Mark McNay in 2002 indicates that most wolf-human encounters in Alaska and Canada over the last century involved wolves that had been habituated by humans.
As wolf populations expand and ungulate herds decline or redistribute, humans are bound to see more wolves roaming closer to rural communities for longer periods of time. Keeping them away from livestock, garbage and other easy forage will be key to minimizing potentially violent encounters.
As the houndsman retrieved his dog, “one of the wolves approached to within ten yards and was acting very aggressive, growling as it advanced,” reports Bangs. The Idaho wolf backed down, but the scenario squares with Bill Topping’s experience in Saskatchewan. “All of us north-country truckers carry pepper spray, and nobody who can help it goes out alone, even in the daytime and even right on the highway,” says Topping. “The wolves are just getting way too thick and way too bold.”
Copyright 2006, Outdoor Life.
Related reading and information:
A Dangerous Mix: The Death of Kenton Carnegie
(Important Note: This is a great deal of information, all in one place. It is highly recommended that everything here be viewed/read.)
March 7, 2006
Wolf attack likely killed man, police say
The body of the 22-year-old man was found at Points North Landing near Wollaston Lake two days ago. The community is about 450 kilometres northeast of La Ronge.
An autopsy indicated he was likely killed by animals, according to RCMP spokesperson Heather Russell.
"All of the injuries discovered in the autopsy are consistent with animal bites. But you can't completely rule everything out until the investigation is complete," she said.
Russell said the autopsy hasn't confirmed what sort of animals attacked the man, but noted wolves have been sighted in the area and there were tracks believed to be wolf tracks around the body.
It was likely those animals that killed him, she said.
The RCMP haven't released the name of the victim. He was from Oshawa. If it's confirmed that wolves killed the man, it would be the first time in recent history that's happened in North America.
A 2002 study of wolf attacks in Alaska and Canada done by the Alaska Fish and Game Department found no examples of human deaths attributed to wolf attacks for more than 100 years.
Wayne Galloway, a veteran outfitter in northern Saskatchewan, said he wouldn't be at all surprised if wolves attacked and killed a human.
He said in recent years, he's seen an increase in wolf numbers and a decrease in the wildlife they prey on.
"They're a predator and I guess if man happens to be something that they'll take a pass at, they'll do it," he said.
Wolf attack suspected in Oshawa man's death - RCMP probe incident at mining camp
Oshawa, Ontario, Canada - Police in Saskatchewan say the death of an Oshawa man was likely caused by a wolf attack.
RCMP spokeswoman Heather Russell said 22-year-old Kenton Joel Carnegie died Tuesday evening while out walking near a mining camp in northern Saskatchewan.
"Our understanding is he said he was going out for a walk, and said he would be back around 5 o'clock," she said.
When Mr. Carnegie failed to return others in the camp went to look for him. "His body was found around 7 o'clock," Ms. Russell said.
The CBC reported the death was likely the result of a wolf attack, the first such human fatality reported in more than 100 years.
While Mounties in Saskatchewan are still investigating the incident, it appears to have been an attack, Ms. Russell said. "There's no evidence to the contrary," she said. "All of the injuries (examined) at autopsy were consistent with animals (attacking)."
Wolves had been seen in the area and tracks consistent with wolves or dogs were found, Ms. Russell said.
Mr. Carnegie, a student in his third year at the Geological Engineering Co-Op Program at the University of Waterloo, was working in a mining camp at Points North Landing in Saskatchewan's far north, near the Northwest Territories border. The rugged area is inhabited largely by trappers, hunters and miners, and is accessible only by air for most of the year.
A graduate of O'Neill Collegiate, Mr. Carnegie was an artist and musician. A person answering the phone at the family's Oshawa home this week declined comment.
Ms. Russell said that while the incidents of wolves attacking humans are rare, they are not unheard of in the province.
"Last January there was a man at a mine in the same general area who was attacked," she said.
That man managed to fight the wolves off with assistance from others, Ms. Russell said.
A funeral service for Mr. Carnegie is to be held Monday.
Victim of likely wolf attack from Oshawa Killed in Saskatchewan: RCMP cites animal attack in university student's death
November 14, 2005
RCMP said yesterday autopsy results indicate that Kenton Joel Carnegie, a third-year geological engineering student at the University of Waterloo, was likely killed in an animal attack. His body was found near a camp at Points North Landing on Tuesday evening.
The University of Waterloo Daily Bulletin says visitations for the engineering student were held this weekend in Oshawa and that his funeral is today.
One university engineering bulletin board posting said Mr. Carnegie was working for Sander Geophysics Ltd., an Ottawa-based company that performs high-resolution aerial surveys for petroleum and mineral exploration ventures. No one from the company was available yesterday to comment.
Northern Saskatchewan is uranium-rich, and many aerial surveyors come to the area looking for the mineral, said Bill Topping, who makes regular trips into the northern bush.
Mr. Carnegie's body was found on a lakeside trail near Points North Landing, a northern outpost with an airstrip.
A woman who works at Points North said Mr. Carnegie had been working with a five-member aerial survey crew and had been there for about three weeks.
The other crew members left in the days after his death, she said. She said she didn't know him well and that he was a ''very quiet young fellow.''
Mr. Topping ate dinner with Mr. Carnegie and one of his colleagues the day before Mr. Carnegie died, and he warned them about the wolves. ''There was two guys there that had pictures and they were talking about the wolves being feet away from them,'' Mr. Topping said. ''These wolves were right up there. I guess there was a pack of them by the sounds of it.''
''I said, 'You guys are lucky, because a wolf ate my dog this year and I was 20 paces away when the wolf took him,' '' he said. ''I'm lucky I didn't get eaten.''
Nearly everyone who lives or works in the area has an anecdote about a wolf encounter, Mr. Topping said.
''It should smarten everybody up and make everybody more careful, and maybe they should do something about the wolf problem,'' he said. Mr. Topping said he would like the provincial government to investigate ways of controlling the wolf population so the animals are not so aggressive toward humans.
''Everybody was kind of in a state of shock when I was there the other day,'' said Mr. Topping, who is based in La Ronge, 450 kilometres south of Points North. "Everybody's talking about it.''
According to Saskatchewan Environment and other government agencies in North America, there are no documented cases of a wolf killing a human in the wild.
Dr. Valerius Geist, a professor emeritus in environmental sciences at the University of Calgary, said people need to realize that any encounter with a wolf is dangerous.
''Any time a wolf that appears tame looks you over, the only reason he is looking you over is because you're a potential lunch,'' Dr. Geist said.
Wolves who have trouble catching natural prey follow a pattern of behaviour that begins with less fear of humans and watching humans from afar, he said. Next, they may attack dogs and follow humans around. An attack on a person is then not far off, he said.
''We have, unfortunately, the idea that these are cuddly, warm, sweet creatures,'' Dr. Geist said.
''If anybody sees wolves that are tame, interested, watch out,'' he said. ''This is a high level of danger.''
Kenton Joel Carnegie Memorial http://www.mtechservices.ca/Kenton/Kenton.html An excerpt from this URL: "Suddenly on Tuesday November 8, 2005 as a result of a tragic incident in Points North, Saskatchewan at the age of 22. Kenton was an honour student in his 3rd year of the Geological Engineering Co-op Program with the University of Waterloo and a graduate of O’Neill Collegiate in Oshawa. Kenton was a man of profound integrity, intelligence, knowledge, dedication and humour and he will be deeply missed by all those whose lives he touched. He was a man of science, a brilliant artist, and a musical aficionado. Kenton had an incredible understanding of the land and an everlasting love of travel and exploration. Cherished son of Kim and Lori (nee Hrehoruk). Loving brother of Calvin (Sarah), and Breanne. Dear grandson of John and Jeannie Hrehoruk and Lillian Carnegie. Dear nephew of Janey and Mike Dubrowsky, Roxanne and Johnny Hrehoruk, Debbie and Gord Reid, Pam and Ray Paquette, Kris and Jamie Emmett. Treasured cousin of Jessica (Pete), Johnathan, Brennan, Rowan, Aidan, Katie, Brett, Sidney (Karen), Danny, Richard, Avery, Jared and James. Friends may call at the Armstrong Funeral Home, 124 King Street East, Oshawa, on Saturday November 12th from 7-9pm and on Sunday November 13th from 2-4pm and 7-9pm. A funeral service to celebrate Kenton’s life will be held in the chapel of the funeral home on Monday November 14th at 11am. Interment Thornton Cemetery, Oshawa. Memorial donations to the University of Waterloo Kenton Carnegie Memorial Fund would be appreciated by the family." Discussion Boards: www.mtechservices.ca/Kenton/Kenton.html
http://www.legassembly.sk.ca/Hansard/25L2S/060330Hansard.pdf (30 pages) An excerpt from this URL: Second Session, Twenty-Fifth Legislature of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan, Debates and Proceedings, (Hansard) Published under the authority of The Honourable P. Myron Kowalsky, Speaker, N.S. Vol. ILVIII, No. 31A, March 30, 2006, 1:30 p.m. ... "I have an anger in me that I have never felt before. I have an anger burning inside of me that I have a hard time keeping track of my emotions. I just feel it could have been prevented and that’s what bothers me the most....I'm concerned with the Saskatchewan Government. I guess we're angry that we lost our son. That’s a tough thing. And we're angry that his brother and sister will have to go on without him." - Kim Carnegie, Kenton Joel Carnegie's father. "Mr. Hart: Mr. Speaker, last night the coroner also appeared on the news item and she felt that there was little doubt as to the cause of young Kenton Carnegie’s death. And, Mr. Speaker, wolf attacks are not ... This was not an isolated incident. Last fall near the Key Lake mine an employee went out for a jog and was attacked by a wolf and had to wrestle the wolf to the ground. And he only escaped with his life because his co-workers came along and helped him get rid of the wolf, Mr. Speaker. So Cameco took some action. They called in wildlife officials from the Department of Environment. They looked at the situation. The officials suggested that Cameco fence their garbage dump, and they have done that, Mr. Speaker. They no longer have a wolf problem in that area, Mr. Speaker. So again, to the minister, why is the minister not protecting people? Why won't he put policies in place that deal with garbage dumps on Crown land?" (pages 888/10 through 889/11)
http://www.tavm.org/scalpel/TAVM_ScalpelMar2006.pdf (page 16 -- columns 1 and 2 -- of 20)
In this January 2005 report, Kaveri Bittira reports on Fred Desjarlais' ordeal (Runs 2:00 in RealPlayer). http://www.cbc.ca/clips/Sask/ram-lo/SK_Bittira_Wolf_Attack050104.ram
In a recent interview, Fred Desjarlais tells CBC News what it's like to be attacked by a wolf. (Runs 8:50 in RealPlayer) http://www.cbc.ca/clips/Sask/ram-lo/SK_O'Connor_Fred_Desjarlais_Interview_060223.ram