AR-News: Response Received Re Kodiak Cows

DTanzer16 at DTanzer16 at
Sat Dec 6 18:03:10 EST 2003

Subj:   Re: Cows    
Date:   12/6/2003 5:02:32 PM Eastern Standard Time  
From:   <A HREF="mailto:Drue_Pearce at">Drue_Pearce at</A> 
To: <A HREF="mailto:DTanzer16 at">DTanzer16 at</A>   
Sent from the Internet (Details)    

We appreciate and understand your concern for the cattle of Chirikof
Island.  We would like to clarify a few facts in the bulletin from the
Humane Society. There are more than 600 cattle on Chirikof Island that are
privately owned, free-range cattle.  The owner, not Fish and Wildlife
Service, transported some of his cattle from Chirikof Island to Kodiak.
The cattle were on a barge from November 26 to December 3, 2003.
Twenty-three cattle were taken off the barge in Kodiak on December 3 and
were moved to holding pens on a private pasture.  They are being well cared
for by their owners and a veterinarian.  We do not know the owners’ future
intentions for the cattle.  Thank you again for sharing your concerns with
us.  For your information, below is a press release sent out on Friday,
December 5 from The Fish and Wildlife Service Region 7, Alaska.


Drue Pearce, Senior Advisor to the Secretary, Department of the Interior -
Alaska Affairs
Rowan Gould, Regional Director, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service – Alaska

For Immediate Release                           Contact: Greg Siekaniec
907-235-6546  or
Dec. 5, 2003                                    Bruce Woods

              Chirikof Island Cattle Arrive on Kodiak Island

Twenty-three privately-owned, free-range cattle that were safely
transported by private barge from Chirikof Island to Kodiak Island, are
currently in holding pens, located on private land at Middle Bay, Kodiak
Island, under the care of their owners and a local vet.  Alaska Regional
Director, Rowan Gould, said today “We care a great deal about the treatment
of these animals and have taken all the steps necessary to try to ensure
that they are receiving proper treatment. There have been some allegations
about mistreatment of these cattle presented by other sources that are,
fortunately, not true.”

The privately-owned cattle are being removed from Chirikof Island, part of
the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, to facilitate recovery of the
island’s biological diversity and ecosystem health.  The purposes of the
refuge, as stated in the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act,
include conserving seabird populations of national and international
significance and does not include private sector grazing. As a result, the
Service has worked with a private company and owner of the cattle to remove
the livestock from the island.

According to Refuge Manager, Greg Siekaniec, during the summer of 2002,
over 600 cattle were believed to roam the island. These cattle are a
mixture of several breeds including Siberian, Shorthorn, Longhorn, Angus,
Jersey, and Holstein. Herefords were added more recently.  Having grazed
for years on isolated Chirikof Island the cattle are well adapted to Alaska
weather and are very hardy.

On November 26, 2003 the cattle left Chirikof Island via private barge and
headed to Kodiak Island.  A fuel stop was made in Old Harbor, Kodiak
Island, where approximately a dozen were sold locally. Continuing on to the
City of Kodiak, the animals were fed and watered on the barge until
arrangements could be made to off-load them. All twenty-three cattle were
removed from the barge late on December 3 and through the early hours of
December 4, 2003 and placed in private holding pens and pasture at Middle
Bay, Kodiak Island.

For years, the island has been subject to very complicated land status
reviews and considerations.  Early discussions of a land exchange with the
State of Alaska ended with the State concluding that the island would not
make an appropriate acquisition due to difficult logistics and past
failures of ranching attempts.  However, the State is again expressing
interest in negotiating a resolution that will preserve the Chirikof cattle

You can subscribe to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska Region
listserver to have our press releases sent to your e-mail address
automatically by sending a message to: listserv at Please
indicate that you would like to subscribe to FWS-Alaska news and give your
name in the body of the message.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency
responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish, wildlife, and
plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American
people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge
System, which encompasses 542 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small
wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national
fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices, and 81 ecological services
field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the
Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores
nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat
such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation
efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds
of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to
state fish and wildlife agencies.

                                   - FWS

      For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
                 visit our home page at

                                               To:       rowan_gould at, 
greg_siekaniec at, Drue Pearce/SIO/OS/DOI at DOI        
                      12/04/2003 06:58         cc:                          
                PM                       Subject:  Cows                       

Please immediately rescue cattle on barge off Chirikof Island

To: Rowan Gould, Director, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service;
Greg Siekaniec, Refuge Manager, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge;
Drue Pearce, Senior Advisor to the Secretary - Alaska Affairs
Department of the Interior

Dear Sir or Madam:

I am very upset to learn that under a plan by the US Fish and Wildlife
Service, dozens of wild cows and calves are suffering terribly aboard a
barge off the coast of Alaska. The cattle, whose ancestors have roamed wild
on Chirikof Island for over a century, were rounded up and herded onto the
barge, headed for slaughter, late last month, and sit on the broken barge
at Kodiak Island. However, they have been aboard the ship for weeks now,
due to bad weather and poor planning. These 23 cows and calves are packed
in so tightly they can barely move, and are suffering from lack of food and
water. Observers have reported that calves are being squeezed by the larger
cows and that 3 cows have been shot due to broken legs. The surviving cows
remained on the barge last night through snow and a prolonged period of
cold rain, waiting to be rescued.

The USFWS claims the cattle need to be removed from the island in order to
protect bird populations. However, biological evidence shows that both
birds and cattle have been coexisting on the island for almost 150 years.
These cows were originally left on the island by the Russians and are a
special and particularly attractive breed of cow. Most local residents of
the island are highly opposed to the eradication plan, as the wild cattle
are, to many, a unique link to the island’s historical past. Alaska’s
Governor Frank Murkowski has been a vocal opponent of the USFWS’ plan as
well, and has spoken out in support of letting the Chirikof Island cattle
live in peace. It is my understanding that The Humane Society of the United
States has offered to provide food and assistance to protect the cows from
starvation or slaughter, and The Fund for Animals has offered the cows
sanctuary at the Black Beauty Ranch in Texas. However, the cows' fate still
hangs in the balance, and it is up to officials to intervene immediately to
stop the cruel extermination of cattle on Chirikof Island and allow the
dozens of cattle aboard the ship to disembark and head for sanctuary
instead of slaughter. Please reply and let me know what action you plan to
take to resolve this very urgent situation.

Thank you very much for your time.


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