It’s now official.
A man was attacked, killed and eaten by a pack of wolves in Saskatchewan, Canada. A jury decided Nov. 1 that a 22-year-old Ontario man was killed 2 years ago in a remote mining camp by a pack of wolves.
The jury’s decision makes Kenton Carnegie the first confirmed killed of a human in North America by wolves. The decision has delighted anti-wolf advocates, who have been skeptical of the most powerful claim made environmentalists who pushed to get wolves reintroduced into the Northern Rockies: Wolves don’t kill people.
Now, of course this single incident suggests that wolf attacks on human are rare. More people are killed by dogs, grizzly bears and mountain lions.
But at least one scientist says everything we learned about wolves when they themselves were decimated during the 20th Century might not be true with large, healthy populations in the 21st Century.
Val Geist, one of Canada’s most noted biologists,emeritus professor from the University of Calgary, who had written a paper entered into evidence in the inquest, said he has personally seen a shift in wolf behavior among wolves that live in and among humans that are not hunted. Those near his home on Vancouver Island are more aggressive then those he studied for decades in the wild.
Another Canadian wolf expert Paul Paquet, said during the inquest that Carnegie was likely killed by a bear, but could have been killed by wolves.
The witnesses on the scene thought differently.
They found the engineering student surrounded by a pack of wolves and identified the tracks near the body as wolves.
“Collectively, there is little doubt in my mind that these two exceptionally qualified witnesses correctly identified wolves as the species killing and consuming Kenton Carnegie, but also correctly read the process of events as evidenced by the track and sign patterns in the snow,” Geist wrote.
Wolves and other animals had become habituated eating a large garbage dump left by the mining company and its workers. They and other wild animals had lost their fear of humans.
“I'd put in the same category as ‘O.J. Simpson is innocent,’ ” Paquet, told the Daily News.
No one witnessed the attack. An overnight snow covered much of the tracks and the rarity wolves getting close to people drives his doubts, the Daily News said. The position of the body and the wounds suggested to Paquet that it was a bear that ate him.
Needless to say, environmental groups believe Paquet.
Anti-wolf advocates now have the evidence they have been hoping for to paint the predator as the bloodthirsty threat to children and lone backcountry hikers they have always suggested.
“The story of Kenton Carnegie’s death and the struggle of his parents to find the truth against political bias stands as a precursor to events that may all to soon unfold in Idaho,” said John Runft, the attorney who wrote the anti-wolf initiative that Stanley lodge owner Ron Gillett is circulating.
One thing is certain. Westerners are going to hear the name of Kenton Carnegie a lot in the next few years as the debate over wolves continues.