Something was off when Brittany Hayward and her teenage daughter arrived in Moss Point, near the community of Metlakatla in Southeast Alaska.
“I had asked my daughter, you know, ‘Where are the birds? Why are there no birds, there is no noise,” Hayward said. And, you know, she kind of joked and was like, ‘The Kushtaka is watching us’ and, and I was like, ‘No, you know, something’s wrong, something’s wrong, I’ve got the ‘feels like we’re being watched.'”
Hayward had three dogs with her on the beach. This included Rosco, a ridgeback-mastiff mix; Smokey, a mix of German Shepherd and Husky; and Cardi B, a Jack Russell mixed with husky and pit bull.
“And our dogs were on high alert, as soon as they got there they just kept looking and, you know, pointing and looking at the bushes, and they were really uncomfortable,” said Hayward.
Hayward said she couldn’t see much from where she was standing. She was behind mounds of sand and rocks that form on the beach at low tide. Smokey watched over them, standing on one of the mounds. She remembered telling her daughter that she felt like a sitting duck.
When Hayward turned around, she saw Smokey running after a wolf.
“I start screaming, just screaming, for my dog to come back and within minutes I felt like this wolf was pulling him in and they were chasing each other,” she said. “He hunted the wolf.”
Hayward said she picked up Cardi B. She kept screaming and holding her ground, just as state wildlife officials advised.
“I don’t see where those other wolves are,” she said. “We are behind the wolves.”
But his cries did not frighten the wolf. Instead, she remembers the animal simply nodding and walking towards her.
That’s when Smokey and Rosco went wild.
“Smokey and Rosco took off after the wolf and Rosco got his hands on the wolf,” Hayward said. “And they fell into the rocks. And when they started fighting, two more came out of the woods and started attacking him and another came from the point.
Hayward said Smokey came back and she managed to get him on a leash. She told her daughter to take her and run to the car. Hayward had hoped the car horn would scare the pack away.
“And she was like, I can’t leave you,” Hayward said. “And I just had to yell at him, ‘Run!’
But Rosco kept fighting. With Cardi B still in her arms, Hayward said, she was still screaming as she watched Rosco tumble with the wolves. He nailed one in the rocks.
That’s when Hayward took off. She drove her car to the beach, honking her horn, trying to both scare the pack and call for help.
But she said the wolves didn’t seem to care. She got out of the car to get help, but something had already changed on the beach.
“It went completely silent,” Hayward said. “I couldn’t hear them.”
Hayward’s husband, police officers and other Metlakatla residents attempted to search for Rosco. But the wolves continued to guard the beach, howling late into the night.
Researchers combed through the area until around 1 a.m. the following morning. A fish and wildlife officer found Rosco’s remains and brought him home.
Hayward said he fought to defend his family. She said Rosco died of a puncture wound to the stomach.
This wasn’t Hayward’s first encounter with wolves — Smokey hunted some on a recent family camping trip. And Hayward thinks something needs to be done.
“I think they need to be cleared up, I think the fact that they weren’t scared of me is pretty dangerous,” she said.
Metlakatla officials issued a notice to residents on Monday warning them that wolves had been spotted in the Moss Point and Point Davison areas. Hayward said it’s important to stay alert while on the go.
“I think people just need to trust your instincts,” Hayward said. “And make no mistake about that sentiment. If you feel like you, you’re being watched. It’s still Alaska, and you’re probably being hunted. Absolutely.”
Hayward said beachgoers should also carry bear spray or some other type of weapon — just in case.
Speaking to KRBD on Monday, the mayor of Metlakatla said he could not recall a similar incident in recent years.
Fish and Game says wolves are known to be aggressive towards dogs, with or without the presence of the owner. But according to the department, attacks by children and dogs, or approaching homes, are somewhat unusual.
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