When We Become The Hunted by Juanita Amero
The “Outlaws” has been a section of Water and Woods online magazine that mostly retold the stories and legends of various wolves from history. They have been portrayed in the articles, for the most part, as unlawful heroes being pursued by men unsuccessfully. Hunters and trappers chased these wolves for years in some cases, trying all tricks of the trade. Most of these stories ended with the hunter finally catching these outlaws either by some final mistake made by the wolf or just by sheer luck.
I thought it might be interesting this time to look at what happens when the tables are turned and man becomes the hunted. Just last year there was a killing in Canada that put to an end, for many, the myth that wolves won’t harm humans. There are some that have been telling us for years that the wolf most definitely will attack and kill humans and I had touched on this subject in a previous issue. Some believe they do, others do not. However, one cannot argue with the facts that surround this incident.
Some of you may recognize the name, Kenton Carnegie, a 22-year-old college student doing some temporary surveying in northern Saskatchewan. I remember his name from a brief news clipping back in November of 2005. The clipping caught my interest and I knew I would need to know more.
Apparently, this young man from Ontario became intrigued by the close presence of wolves around the camp and its outbuildings. He was tall, lanky, in good health and had spent lots of time in the outdoors, though he had no experience or encounters with wolves up to this point.
Timber wolves were a common sight at Points North Landing, an industrial outpost carved out of northern Saskatchewan’s spruce and jackpine. Wolves were daily spotted at local dumpsites and airstrips. Kenton was able to snap a couple of photos of young wolf pups in the surrounding woods near the compound on one occasion. He came as close as within two feet of these pups, leaving him curious and wanting for more.
Those who knew him there remember well the evening of November 6, 2005, as he sat around the camp supper table and shared some photos that had left him excited yet a little uneasy about their brazen behavior. Just two nights after, on November the 8th, young Kenton decided to take a walk before his night meal. He told those at camp he would return at 7 pm for his dinner. At 5:30 he headed out into the cold woods alone for a walk.
On his way back, 600 yards from the camp door in the dark, Kenton would not have even realized he was in trouble until it was too late. Turning in the trail, it is assumed he would have seen the pack of timber wolves following him. When Kenton’s mutilated body was discovered around 7:30 p.m., prints in the bloody snow told a graphic story of coordinated pursuit, then violent predatory attack. The footprints indicated that four wolves had shadowed Kenton, 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 the young mans remains.
The RCMP were pretty tight lipped with their reports but this statement was given by one of their female investigators at the scene.
“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.”
Only it wasn’t an animal this time. The wolves’ victim was a human, and the incident has left the activists and conservation community with their jaws dropping. They have fervently defended the belief that wolves don’t, and won’t, attack people. They have maintained their claim that there are always underlying factors such as rabies. However none of the animals in Kenton’s attack were rabid. Kenton was hunted, stalked and taken as prey.
In response to the attack and death, officials in the province would like to see a hunting season opened on the wolf that has depleted its natural food sources. The wolves have turned to scavenging the dumps and are increasing to great numbers. They are behaving more like junkyard dogs and are traveling in much larger packs than normal.
Wayne Galloway, who is a hunting guide with his own outfitters business in the area, is vocal in his opinion on the subject and with very good reason. His 70-pound Airedale was killed and eaten 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.”
Very few trappers are trapping the wolf in the province and the natives no longer harvest them either. “There isn’t even a rabbit up there,” stews Galloway. “So any predators up there are hungry.”
The wolf biologists have become very interested in this fatal attack and are following it closely. They have some very interesting things to report. As my search continues, I would like to share this with you also in our next issue at Water and Woods.
In closing, I leave you with the sad thought that at the time of his death, Kenton Carnegie probably recognized the wolves that followed him down the snowy darkened trail that winter night. They were likely the same timber wolves, two blacks and two grays, that he had photographed two days earlier on the edge of the north woods settlement where he was staying.
This has been the true story of a young man, may he rest in peace, who meets his death at the fangs of the timber wolf. It is a tragic tale of what happens when we, as humans, become the hunted.
Until next time my friends, if in wolf country you reside… proceed with caution.