Loose llama surprises Interior hikers

Posted: Friday, September 10, 2004

FAIRBANKS (AP) Hikers in the Chena River State Recreation Area east of Fairbanks have been bumping into a loose llama and authorities are trying to figure out where it belongs.

George Carroll and Lisa Dick spotted the llama on the Chena Dome Trail on Monday about two miles from the trailhead at 49.1 Mile Chena Hot Springs Road. A family coming down the trail warned Carroll and Dick that there was a llama ahead so they weren't as shocked as they might have been, Carroll said.

''It was standing in the middle of the trail with no bridle or anything,'' said Carroll. ''We tried to herd it back down the trail but it took off into the woods and came back out on the trail ahead of us.

''We weren't going to catch it,'' he said. ''It was really skittish.''

When he got home, Carroll called Fairbanks North Star Borough Animal Control and the Alaska State Troopers. Neither immediately responded.

Troopers notified the Alaska Department of Fish and Game but Fairbanks area biologist Don Young said the state doesn't deal with llamas because they are considered a domesticated animal.

On Wednesday, animal control acting manager April Barnes had heard only second-hand reports of the llama and had not talked to anyone who had seen it.

It would take at least two of the borough's three animal control officers to catch the animal and even then there is no guarantee they could corral it, she said.

''That's a lot of mantime to dedicate somebody to drive 50 miles and hike a couple miles in on a trail to look for an animal they might not even see,'' she said. ''If it's pretty wild it's going to be a big challenge.''

People often use llamas as pack animals but Alaska State Parks officials had not received any reports of a lost llama, said northern region parks superintendent Anna Plager.

''That is too weird,'' said Plager.

Barnes was still checking into the situation Wednesday and wasn't sure what Animal Control would do.

''If the owner doesn't go get it pretty soon it's going to starve or freeze or get eaten by a bear or get shot,'' said Carroll.

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