Well-known walrus turns up alive

Posted: Monday, October 08, 2001

SOLDOTNA -- "Wally" the walrus is not dead after all.

It was thought the much-beloved walrus of Cook Inlet died and was decapitated and his tusks taken. But reports of his death appear to have been premature.

Bob Gill, a biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, was out doing a bird count Saturday when he and his pilot saw a walrus lazing on the beach at low tide near Drift River just where Wally would have been. "The walrus either has been resurrected with a head or there's more than one in the Inlet," Gill said. "It's alive and well."

Wally has lived in the area for at least 15 years. "It's like having a pet," said Ron Wilds, a commercial fisherman whose setnet site is one of Wally's favorite haulouts.

About a week and a half ago, a pilot told workers at the Drift River oil terminal that he'd seen the body of a headless walrus that had washed ashore. The workers, who viewed Wally as a mascot, assumed the worst.

But at least three people reported seeing Wally on Saturday, hauled out on his favorite sand bar at low tide. They were sure it wasn't another walrus. "No, it's Wally," Wilds said.assistant refuge manager, said construction could harm moose and other wildlife. "Before long you have a refuge in name only," he said.

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