Chankliut Island, Castle Cape

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Chankliut Island, Castle Cape

by | Oct 24, 2020

Chankliut Island is 2.9 miles (4.7 km) long and 0.9 miles (1.5 km) wide, located 6 miles (10 km) south of Castle Cape in the Pacific Ocean, about 240 miles (387 km) southwest of Kodiak and 15 miles (24 km) southeast of Chignik, Alaska. The island is uninhabited and appears from a distance as three separate barren islands with grassy slopes, but these are actually connected by low sand flats with small lakes. The island is part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. The Alutiiq name was first published on Russian hydrographic charts in 1847.

Russians were the first to introduce foxes to the numerous islands off the southern coast of the Alaska Peninsula as a means to supplement revenue when sea otters became depleted. Beginning in 1882, with the oversight of the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, the Alaska Commercial Company initiated fox farming as a commercial enterprise. The government charged fox farmers $200 per year to lease an island. By 1920, many of the islands off the Alaska Peninsula were leased by European immigrants. George Anderson, with his Alutiiq wife, Ocelena, started raising foxes on Chankliut Island in 1910. His son-in-law, Lars Hanson, had the lease in 1920 when Anderson, five children, two grandchildren, and Hanson were all living on the island.

By 1922, there were over 150 recorded fox farms in Alaska, several of which were located off the coast of Aniakchak. By 1930, fox farming was the third largest industry in Alaska, surpassed only by fishing and mining. In a report for the journal Science, today’s biologists describe the introduction of predators to coastal islands during this time as possibly one of Alaska’s worst ecological disasters. Read more here and here. Explore more of Chankliut Island here:

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