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Governor: Leave the Cows Alone
Directs Dept. of Law to Look into State's Options to Help Chirikof Cattle


December 03, 2003

Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski on Tuesday directed the Alaska Department of Law to look into the state's options to help the cattle of Chirikof Island. The federal permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the cattle expired on September 30, 2003, and has been renewed repeatedly without a public hearing process or announcement. Murkowski made the statement Tuesday before leaving for Fairbanks to attend former Alaska first lady Matilda Stepovich's memorial service.

The cattle of Chirikof Island were recently chronicled in the governor's weekly half-hour show "Our Alaska," and have received substantial news coverage from around the nation. Recently, a barge load of the cattle left Chirikof Island and was temporarily stranded in Old Harbor near Kodiak. The cattle have been docked in Kodiak since Sunday, and have been confined in close quarters for the duration of their voyage.

"These cattle have been out there for over 120 years and are an extraordinary strain of animal, free of disease and growth hormones," said Murkowski. "Our position is to leave the cows alone. We have an unfortunate situation in Kodiak where cattle taken off the island are stuck on a barge and hungry. We hope that we will be able to pursue a solution that will allow the cattle on Chirikof Island to stay alive and well. Let's leave one island in Alaska for the cattle."

Murkowski called on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to follow the spirit of the Congressional intent for both sides to work together to find a resolution. In late October of 2003, the U.S. House / Senate conference committee on Interior Appropriations adopted the following language into its final report:

"The managers are aware that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has provided assistance to private entities attempting to remove cattle from Chirikof Island in the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. Given that these efforts have not been entirely successful, the managers urge the Service to work with the State of Alaska and interested stakeholders on alternative strategies for cattle management. The mangers further encourage the State of Alaska to consider making range available on nearby state owned islands."



Source of News Release:

Office of the Governor
Web Site


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