Another close encounter with a muskox—this time in the community of Wales—that saw an angry bull charge a tethered dog several times before ending with the muskox being killed.
The attack comes amid a summer of similar threats to dogs—and people—in and around Nome, some of which have left dogs dead and resulted in destroyed muskox claimed “in defense of life or property,” or “DLP.”
Helena Oxereok was using a four wheeler to haul water with her sister’s boyfriend Saturday, Aug. 16, when she noticed the shaggy bull come from behind her house. Despite neighbors and family members yelling and revving their four wheelers to scare the animal off, she said the bull ignored them until it noticed her dog Sam.
“And then it started chasing my dog around its house, maybe six times my dog had to run away,” Oxereok said Thursday in a phone interview.
“At one point, it got to where my dog was being pushed but not really hurt, pushed by the muskox’s head, and I’m glad the chain didn’t get caught on his horns, otherwise he would have been in big trouble.”
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Oxereok said her brother Randy grabbed his SKS rifle and shot several warning shots in the air, but the muskox was unphased.
“It didn’t even budge!” she said. “It just looked at my brother like nothing happened. Then it started chasing my dog, Sam, again.”
That’s when Oxereok said Randy shot the animal, first in the shoulder but later in the neck and head.
“The muskox was 20 … not even 20 feet from our doorstep,” she said.
Oxereok said her brother called the Alaska State Troopers to report the DLP kill. Alaska Department of Fish and Game assistant area biologist Letty Hughes confirmed the DLP take Friday. Oxerock said, in keeping with the requirements of DLP wildlife takes, they immediately butchered the animal and shared the meat with friends and family.
She said her mom collected some tufts of the animal’s underfur—the highly-prized qiviut—and her dad has plans for the bull’s horns.
“My dad’s going to cut off the horns and use them as ulu handles,” she said, “because he’s been wanting to go look for muskox horns, for that purpose.”
The bull was the second muskox death in Wales in as many weeks. Fish and Game’s Hughes said the department investigated a dead muskox a few miles outside of the community last week but determined the animal had died after it had been gored by another muskox.
Oxereok said Wales, like Nome, has seen an overall increase in muskox living close to town this summer.
Editor’s note: a version of this story appeared stating Helena Oxereok was hauling water “with her boyfriend.” The above version reflects corrections clarify that relationship.