Officer killed by musk ox is first CSO death in the line of duty

Officer Curtis Worland, a 13-year veteran of the Alaska Court Services, died in musk ox attack near Nome on Dec. 13.
Published: Dec. 13, 2022 at 5:20 PM AKST|Updated: Dec. 14, 2022 at 9:23 PM AKST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

NOME, Alaska (KTUU) - An Alaska Court Services officer has died near Nome from injuries sustained during a musk ox attack while trying to defend a dog kennel on his property, Alaska State Troopers reported.

According to Alaska State Troopers, a call was received from a citizen that Officer Curtis Worland was found with a serious injury near his home on the Teller Highway around 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon.

Nome Volunteer Fire Department and troopers from the Nome post responded, where they found Worland had sustained a serious goring injury to his leg and had died as a result.

Worland was armed and in the process of defending his dog yard from a herd of musk oxen when the attack occurred. Worland was using his snowmachine and a Glock 22 .40 caliber handgun that was discharged several times.

Worland was a longtime employee at the Nome Alaska State Troopers post, having spent his entire career at the same location. His loss is felt by many in the community, as well as among fellow law enforcement officers.

“Curtis proudly wore the Court Services Officer uniform and honorably served the people of Alaska for 13 years,” Alaska Department of Public Safety Commissioner James Cockrell said.

“He was a proud member of the Nome community and a dedicated member of the Alaska law enforcement family,” Cockrell said.

“I hope that Alaskans will keep Curtis’ family, friends, loved ones, and the Alaska State Troopers in your thoughts as we process this tragic loss for our state. He will be sorely missed by the DPS family.”

Alaska State Troopers, Alaska Wildlife Troopers, and Department of Fish and Game are investigating the incident.

According to the Department of Public Safety, the animal is now considered a risk to the public. Once the animal is located, it will be dispatched. Alaska Wildlife Troopers and the Department of Fish and Game are both involved in locating the animal.

Large numbers of musk oxen — which stand over 4 feet tall and can reach up to 900 pounds in weight — can be found in Nome and surrounding areas.

Because Worland’s death was on a paid break during his regular work shift, his death is considered to be in the line of duty. Court services officers are, like state troopers, required to respond to calls made during their breaks.

Worland’s death is the first of a court services officer in the line of duty, and the 69th death of an Alaska law enforcement officer in the line of duty.

The Department of Public Safety announced that on Dec. 15, the musk ox was shot and killed near Nome.

“On December 15, 2022, the Alaska Wildlife Troopers and Alaska Department of Fish and Game located the suspected muskox involved in the death of CSO Worland earlier this week. Based on the actions of the muskox ADF&G and AWT determined the muskox may present a threat to the community,” Communications Director Austin McDaniel wrote in an email. “The muskox was dispatched by an Alaska Wildlife Trooper at around 1 pm, approximately one mile away from the location of the encounter with CSO Worland. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game will conduct a necropsy on the muskox.”

This article has been updated to reflect that Worland was a court services officer, not an employee of the Alaska Court System.