Beached boat hampers efforts to remove Chirikof cattle

Posted: Tuesday, September 17, 2002

KODIAK (AP) -- Difficult conditions were impeding efforts to remove wild cattle from Chirikof Island.

The Flying D, an 84-foot vessel, was to have transported 97 cattle to Homer but instead was stuck on a beach of the remote island 175 miles southwest of Kodiak.

The Coast Guard was monitoring the vessel, whose rudders and propellers became imbedded in the sand last week as the boat was beached to load the animals.

There has been no damage to the vessel. But Coast Guard officials are worried about the potential spillage of 4,000 gallons of diesel fuel on board, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reported.

Manfred Dietrich, owner and operator of the boat, was arranging to remove the fuel, according to Coast Guard spokeswoman Marshalena Delaney.

The next tide expected to be high enough to move the Flying D is Oct. 9.

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

The Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge is mandated to return the island to indigenous species, particularly birds, and therefore remove about 1,000 cattle. The animals have a history on the island stretching more than 100 years.

The federal government expected the state to take possession of the island when a lease to rancher Wayne McCrary ran out. But there are only two ways the state can acquire the island from the federal government: through a land trade or by an act of Congress.

The state is not interested in trading another piece of land for Chirikof because it is very remote.

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