Wolf Country USA owner dead of natural causes

Zaz Hollander

Werner Schuster, the 83-year-old owner of a wolf-themed roadside attraction along the Glenn Highway, died of natural causes this week, Alaska State Troopers said.

Troopers responded to the home along the Glenn just east of Palmer at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday for a report of CPR in progress, they said in an online dispatch posted Friday. Medics pronounced Schuster dead soon after.

Schuster owned Wolf Country USA, which billed itself as home of "the largest wolfpack" in the state, even though it's illegal to possess wolves in Alaska without a permit. Troopers descended on the business in 2011 and performed genetic tests on the animals, determining they were wolf-dog hybrids. It's illegal to possess wolf dogs under any circumstance. They also said Schuster sold animals that later bit people or attacked dogs.

A "devastated" Schuster released his more than two dozen hybrids to a California rescue group in 2011 after the state said they were going to have the animals destroyed.

He pleaded guilty in 2012 to a count of owning and selling a wolf hybrid and was fined $3,000.

Schuster said he bought his first wolf-dog pup for $5 on the streets of Anchorage back in 1958.

Reach Zaz Hollander at zhollander@adn.com or 257-4317.