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Caught on camera in the city: The wolf of Anchorage

(KTUU)
Published: Dec. 9, 2016 at 5:14 PM AKST
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If you think you've seen a wolf roaming around Anchorage, you might be right.

The above video was captured by a viewer who observed a white wolf hauling away an old caribou hide into the woods.

The Department of Fish and Game says it knows about the animal, and has been receiving reports about her for the last year.

Ken Marsh with the Division of Wildlife Conservation said that it's a female wolf about 10 to 12 years old.

You can see the collar she has on in the video. Marsh says DFG put on the VHF (very high frequency) collar in 2009 to "track [the] animal's movements for research."

Marsh went on to say that she has lived in the area for over 10 years, and has caused no harm to humans, but he underscored the importance of keeping a safe distance and not to encourage the animals to come closer by offering food, as it can make wolves act much more aggressively.

One thing Alaska is known for is an abundance of wildlife, some that is just beautiful, and some that can be dangerous.

Most residents don't bat an eye at seeing a bald eagle hanging out in their back yard, or a moose walking down the sidewalk (though they'll likely cross to the other side of the street).

A few animal guests, however, give Alaskans more pause when confronted in the flesh, and for good reason. Black bears might seem like a funny sight when they're digging in your trash cans, but most with a modicum of self-awareness will know that these are extremely dangerous animals.

The wolf often falls between these two reactions, as it can look like a large dog, but also presents a real danger as well.

The Department of Fish and Game says that wolves are widespread in Alaska, making their home between urbanized areas, where many people live.

However when it comes to the dangers that wolves realistically represent, the DFG says wolves "rarely act aggressively toward people."

This may give people the illusion that wolves do not pose a threat. This, the DFG says, is untrue.

"There have been instances in Alaska and Canada where wolves have attacked people," the Department says on its website.

"The first case of wild healthy wolves killing a human in modern North America occurred in Saskatchewan in 2005; a second person was killed in 2010 in Alaska. Several other incidents of wolf aggression have resulted in serious injuries."

The DFG details several strategies people should adopt when interacting with what it calls the "rare" case of aggressive wolves.

It says not to run, as this can cause a chase response. Instead, it suggests acting aggressively, "stepping toward the wolf and yelling or clapping your hands if it tries to approach."

They also warn against turning your back to the wolf, as it would break the eye contact of the pack animal.

If it comes to the worst case scenario, playing dead isn't that effective. Instead, if a wolf decides to attack, it recommends standing your ground.

"Fight with any means possible (use sticks, rocks, ski poles, fishing rods or whatever you can find). Use air horns or other noisemakers. Use bear spray or firearms if necessary."

Marsh added that our resident wolf, who has not yet been named, has shown no aggressive behavior, he recommends people remember that she's not a sheep in wolf's clothing.

"People who see her should remember that she is a wild animal -- keep pets leashed and keep a respectful and safe distance from her."