An Alaska state trooper died from injuries he sustained after being attacked by a musk ox while trying to defend his dogs Tuesday, according to a statement from the Alaska Department of Public Safety.
Officer Curtis Worland was attempting to drive a herd of muskoxen away from the dog kennels near his home when one of the muskoxen attacked him, according to the press release. First responders declared Worland dead when they arrived on the scene, WSAZ reported.
Officer Curtis Worland was a longtime employee at the Nome Alaska State Troopers post. https://t.co/gGXAzcDCKg
— Alaska’s News Source (@AKNewsNow) December 14, 2022
While fatal attacks by muskoxen are rare, the animals can become very aggressive around dogs, according to Newsweek. When threatened, they join together in a circle, protecting their young in the middle while keeping their horns facing outward in the direction of the threat, according to National Geographic.
Worland was a “dedicated” member of Alaskan law enforcement for 13 years and had “honorably” served throughout his career, Alaska Department of Public Safety Commissioner James Cockrell said, according to the department’s press release. (RELATED: Massive Horny Bison Rams Car At Yellowstone National Park)
“I hope that Alaskans will keep Curtis’ family, friends, loved ones, and the Alaska State Troopers in your thoughts as we process this tragic loss for our state. He will be sorely missed by the DPS [Department of Public Safety] family,” Cockrell continued.
The Alaska State Troopers, the Alaska Wildlife Troopers and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game are continuing to investigate the incident, according to the press release.
A spokesman for the state troopers, Austin McDaniel, said to Alaska Public Media that the musk ox who caused Worland’s death might be captured and put down if it appears to be a danger to the public, Newsweek reported.