Refuge makes plans to move Chirikof Island cattle

Posted: Sunday, July 28, 2002

KODIAK (AP) -- The Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge plans to begin barging cattle off Chirikof Island in the next several weeks, refuge manager Greg Siekaniec said.

He returned from the remote island 80 miles south of the tip of Kodiak Island on Wednesday.

''There is no activity as far as livestock coming off yet,'' Siekaniec told the Kodiak Daily Mirror.

The cattle are being removed to allow indigenous animals to re-establish themselves, especially the bird population.

Chirikof's isolation makes moving the herd complicated. The project depends heavily on weather and tides.

''They'll have to work with the tides. This is 100 years of people trying to barge the cattle off and not being very successful,'' Siekaniec said.

Originally tame, the cattle have been alone for some time. After the last rancher left the island about five years ago, fishermen occasionally stopped by for free beef and the herd has grown wary of humans.

Tim Jacobson is managing the herd, estimated at 500 to 800 head. He has been on Chirikof for nearly two months working with the animals to get them accustomed to people again. He also spent a month with the herd in the spring.

Jacobson put up fences to create a more controlled environment, taking 50 to 80 head of cattle at one time into confinement to familiarize them with a ranch setting. He has built chutes and a corral as well.

Jacobson and several others are introducing the animals to feed. They have been running the cattle with horses, Siekaniec said.

Jacobson could not be contacted because there are no telephones on Chirikof.

''The project seems to be going very well, and the livestock seem to be responding very well. Tim's confident they'll have a full load (for the barge),'' Siekaniec said.

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