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Wildlife Refuge Plans to Address Cattle Damage to Islands

Aleutian Tern photo by Robert Gill, USGS

 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is preparing a draft environmental impact statement regarding the unauthorized cattle on Chirikof and Wosnesenski Islands. The drafts are being written this winter and will hopefully be ready for public comment sometime this spring or summer. Once these draft documents are written, we will make them public and again ask for comments before making any final decisions.

Meanwhile, this summer, a team of biologists, botanists, and range specialists visited Chirikof, Wosnesenski, and other islands in July. The team spent July 17 and 18 on Chirikof. The team included two people from the Natural Resources Conservation Service who conducted a basic range survey and did other work related to viewing the island from a range management perspective. An agronomist from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (Plant Materials Center within the Division of Agriculture) also participated to collect forage samples. Various other botanists and biologists looked at invasive plant species, established photo points to document current conditions, conducted bird surveys, and recorded plant communities to allow the plant communities observed on the ground to be compared to images obtained from satellites.

In October, an aerial survey of Chirikof Island cattle was conducted to get a current cattle count. There were 2024 cattle observed on Chirikof in early October. The aerial survey team was confident that they counted all the cattle without double counting cattle. So, at last, we have a good current number for cattle on the island.

Both Wosnesenski and Chirikof islands, located in remote Southwest Alaska, are uninhabited and part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge was established in 1980 to conserve marine mammals, seabirds and other migratory birds, and the marine resources upon which they rely. Wosnesenski and Chirikof islands have sustained severe impacts to wildlife habitat, native vegetation, and archaeological sites from grazing by unauthorized cattle left behind when ranchers left the islands years ago.

You will have an opportunity to comment on the draft Environmental Impact Statement documents after they have been prepared. All comments received, including those from individuals, become part of the public record, and are available to the public upon request in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, NEPA, and Departmental policies and procedures. Before you include your name, address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information on your comment, be aware that your entire comment, including this information, may be made available to the public upon request. You can ask us to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, but we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. If you would like to receive future correspondence regarding the unauthorized cattle issue, please contact us:


Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge  
Attention: Cattle  
95 Sterling Hwy, Suite 1 
Homer, AK 99603

Phone: 907-235-6546, or Fax: 907-235-7783 


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Last Updated: Nov 12, 2014
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