Musk ox kills sled dog, injures another
On Friday morning around 2:45 a.m. a musk ox wandered into Kirsten Bey’s sled dog yard, and ended up killing one 5-year-old sled dog and injuring another.
According to Nome Police Sergeant Nicholas Harvey, officers inside the Public Safety Building, located within a half-mile radius of Bey’s dog yard alongside the Nome-Beltz Highway, heard the sled dogs barking in alarm. An officer on patrol was dispatched to investigate and found that a musk ox was approaching the dog yard. Sgt. Harvey said the officer, Casey Johnson, tried blaring the siren to scare the musk ox off, but to no avail. “The musk ox stood his ground and then charged the dog,” Sgt. Harvey said. The dog suffered a puncture wound and died.
Officer Johnson then shot at the musk ox to prevent it from charging other dogs and as Sgt. Preston Stotts arrived at the scene, he shot the musk ox dead with a rifle. As the musk ox charged from the southeast corner of the yard to the northwest corner, he injured another dog, but not fatally, before the animal expired in another dog’s circle. The officers moved the shaken dog from its spot to a different circle.
As the scene unfolded, police notified Kirsten Bey and Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game Area Manager Bill Dunker. Bey said that she was happy that the police acted so fast and with concern for the other dogs when they killed the musk ox and moved a distressed dog to another spot. She said it appeared that the musk ox wandered into the yard from the adjacent bike path, the only opening into the dog yard, as the other three sides are blocked with wire and tripods to prevent musk oxen from entering the yard.
A couple of years ago, Bey said, a musk ox charged and injured two dogs in her yard. In absence of a veterinarian at that time in Nome, the dogs were sent out to Anchorage, where they underwent surgery and survived.
This time around, one dog died and the second husky received a puncture wound through the leg. Traveling veterinarian Gil Van Sciver is in town this week and he responded patching up the 7-year-old surviving musk ox victim.
ADF&G Area Manager Bill Dunker also responded and together with NPD officer Johnson loaded the musk ox carcass on a trailer and delivered it to be butchered and donated to Quyanna Care.
Dunker said this animal was mature bull, older than four or five-years-old.
This incident occurred after a relatively long period of time without deadly musk ox-dog encounters. The last recorded deadly incident happened when a pet dog in the Anvil Mountain neighborhood was severely wounded by a charging musk ox in late November of 2015 and had to be put down.
Over the last decade, more than a dozen dogs have been killed or attacked by musk oxen.