Teacher killed by wolves in Alaska, police say

ANCHORAGE, Alaska Thu Mar 11, 2010 9:15pm EST

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - A schoolteacher found dead this week near a remote Alaska village was probably killed by wolves, Alaska State Troopers said on Thursday.

The fatal attack could be the first on U.S. soil in more than 50 years. Attacks by wild wolves, rather than wolves kept as pets, are extremely rare, numbering no more than a handful a decade, mostly in Canada and Russia.

Candice Berner, a 32-year-old teacher and avid jogger who traveled to several rural schools in Alaska, was found dead on Monday along a road near Chignik Lake, a Native Alutiiq village about 475 miles southwest of Anchorage.

Snowmobilers found her severely mauled body in a pool of blood and multiple wolf tracks in the snow, according to officials. The State Medical Examiner said the cause of death was "multiple injuries due to animal mauling."

Chignik Lake locals had expressed fears about wolf sightings in the area, state troopers said. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game plans a special meeting to hear their concerns.

State troopers said there were no records of deadly wolf maulings in Alaska. Bruce Woods, spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said fatal attacks are extremely rare worldwide.

(Editing by Bill Rigby)

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