Thus read the headline of the Jan. 26, 1950 edition of the Anchorage Daily News. Longtime Alaskan man of God Everett Bachelder had been driving a team of dogs from Palmer to the Copper Basin with a load of supplies and gifts for orphans and needy families when wolves surrounded his outfit stalled in deep snow near Sheep Mountain, near the headwaters of the Matanuska River.
“An Alaskan missionary today revealed how he made a harrowing escape from death when hungry wolves surrounded his dog team on a crosscountry trek from Wasilla to Chitina,” the story reads.
“His dogs were devoured, and he had to keep a campfire going throughout every night to save himself from the vicious beasts.”
Bachelder survived, of course, going on to serve many years as a missionary in Nome. And times have changed in the past half century — no longer do people cast wolves in absurdly purple terms like ‘vicious beasts.’
But it’d be an equally absurd mistake to see wolves — those magnificent, intelligent and socially sophisticated predators — as spiritual creatures guided by ecological action-plans that target only the infirm and weak. The animals have a mission from God: Eat meat. And that can mean killing dogs.
One of the four wolf packs known to roam Alaska’s largest municipality — animals that often prowl within sight of humans on Anchorage trails — has been stalking and attacking pets running lose near owners. In two of the four incidents reported this week by the Anchorage Daily News, dogs were actually consumed. Dogs have also been killed recently by wolves in Fairbanks.