Man killed by a muskox near Nome

A group of Police officers bring out a coffin covered in an American flag
State troopers escorted the remains of Curtis Worland on Wednesday. (Matt Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

A muskox attacked and killed a man near Nome on Tuesday, according to Alaska State Troopers.

Curtis Worland was a court services officer with the Alaska Department of Public Safety.

Troopers say Worland was at home on break when the attack happened. He was on his snowmachine trying to scare a group of muskoxen away from his dog lot. At some point, one of the muskox attacked him, fatally injuring him with its horns. Worland fired his duty weapon, a handgun, multiple times, according to a statement from troopers.

a man in uniform and a winter hat poses for a portrait outside
Curtis Worland. (Photo courtesy Alaska State Troopers)

Nome-based troopers got a call about the fatal attack at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday. Worland was declared dead at the scene, with a major leg wound.

Troopers say the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and Alaska Wildlife Troopers have determined that the muskox that killed Worland is a public safety threat. They plan to kill the animal once it is found.

For people, fatal muskox encounters are incredibly rare. But news outlets have documented the animals attacking and killing dogs in rural Alaska.

Troopers spokesman Austin McDaniel said Worland’s death is tragic.

“Curtis Worland was a dedicated member of the Alaska Department of Public Safety,” said McDaniel. “He served the state well as a court services officer and he will certainly be missed.”

Worland had worked in Nome as a court services officer since 2009. Court services officers are law enforcement officers that provide prisoner transport services, courthouse security and court document service.

McDaniel said troopers consider Worland’s death a line-of-duty death because he was on a paid break at the time of the attack. A procession of emergency vehicles escorted his body to the State Medical Examiner’s office Wednesday afternoon.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional details about the attack.

Jeremy Hsieh has worked in journalism since high school as a reporter, editor and television producer. He lived in Juneau from 2008 to 2022 and now lives in Anchorage.

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