Nome’s Curtis Worland died after musk ox attack
Alaska State Troopers said on Tuesday that Curtis Worland, a Court Service Officer for the Nome AST post, was killed by a musk ox in the afternoon.
Trooper spokesperson Austin McDaniel said that Worland was trying to haze a herd of musk oxen out of his sled dog kennel. Worland and his wife maintain a sled dog team at their property just outside the city limits, on the Nome-Teller Highway. McDaniel said that Worland was alone at the time. He was found injured by another individual, who then notified the troopers, around 12:30 p.m.
According to McDaniel, troopers and local NVFD volunteers responded.
Nome Volunteer Fire and Ambulance Departments Chief Jim West Jr. said he responded, as did a few NVFD fire volunteers. As they were toned out, West said, he was under the impression that Worland was still alive, but when they arrived on scene, after troopers already got there, Worland was already deceased. West noted a significant wound to the femoral artery.
West said that Worland was not in the dog yard but was found in the snow across the property, on the northside of the Nome-Teller Highway. West estimates that Worland’s body was about 100 to 150 yards away from the road and separated from his snowmachine. An empty sidearm was found near the body.
McDaniel said that Worland’s remains will be sent to medical examiner.
“Curtis proudly wore the Court Services Officer uniform and honorably served the people of Alaska for 13 years. He was a proud member of the Nome community and a dedicated member of the Alaska law enforcement family,” said Alaska Department of Public Safety Commissioner James Cockrell. “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 family.”
The Alaska State Troopers in coordination with the Alaska Wildlife Troopers and Alaska Department of Fish and Game are investigating the incident.
For years, an increasing number of musk oxen have taken up residency in or near the city limits, mostly from late spring to fall. The animals have a track record of goring, attacking and killing dogs in Nome, including a dog that lived in the Worland’s dog yard, in December 2020. Then, an ADF&G biologist commented that by the time the snow flies, the nuisance musk oxen are usually no longer an issue and that he considered the musk ox attack on the dog in December unseasonably late.
In winter, they move on to the hills to forage for food. But recent warm spells and rain events this December have created a thick layer of ice and may have driven the herds back to the vicinity of Nome, where shrubs and willows are more abundant than on hills or the open tundra.
This marks the first time that a person was killed by a musk ox in Nome.