Kodiak Island kō´dēăk˝ [key], 5,363 sq mi (13,890 sq km), c.100 mi (160 km) long and 10–60 mi (16–96 km) wide, off S Alaska, separated from the Alaska Peninsula by Shelikof Strait. Alaska's largest island, Kodiak is mountainous and heavily forested in the north and east; the native grasses in the south offer good pasturage for cattle and sheep. The island has many ice-free, deeply penetrating bays that provide sheltered anchorages and transportation routes. The Kodiak bear and the Kodiak king crab are native to the island. Most of the island is a national wildlife refuge. In 1912 the eruption of Mt. Katmai on the mainland blanketed the island with volcanic ash, causing widespread destruction and loss of life (see Katmai National Park and Preserve). Explored in 1763 by Russian fur trader Stepan Glotov, the island was the scene of the first permanent Russian settlement in Alaska, founded by Grigori Shelekhov, a fur trader, on Three Saints Bay in 1784. The settlement was moved to Kodiak village in 1792 and became the center of Russian fur trading. The largest town on the island is Kodiak (1990 pop. 6,365). Salmon fishing is a major occupation; the Karluk River is famous for its salmon run. Livestock farms, numerous canneries, and some copper mining are also prevalent.
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