The trail of carcasses is a gruesome sight across the region, said Martha Wierzbicki, emergency management director for Butte County. “They’re in the fence line, laying alongside the roads,” said Wierzbicki. “It’s really sickening.”
Most costly blizzard in South Dakota agriculture history
Silvia Christen, executive director of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, said most ranchers she had spoken to were reporting that 20 to 50 percent of their herds had been killed. “I have never heard of anything like it,” she said. “And none of the ranchers I have talked to can remember anything like it.”
What made Friday’s storm so damaging was how early it arrived in the season.
Christen said cattle hadn’t yet grown their winter coats to insulate them from freezing wind and snow. In addition, Christen said, during the cold months, ranchers tend to move their cattle to pastures that have more trees and gullies to protect them from storms. Because Friday’s storm arrived so early in the year, most ranchers were still grazing their herds on summer pasture, which tend to be more exposed and located farther away from ranch homes.
Ultimately, Christen said, she believed that more than 5 percent of the roughly 1.5 million cattle in Western South Dakota had been killed. “It’s much higher than that,” she said.
Thousands of carcasses will have to be disposed of in the coming days.
Thanks to Thomas McHart for this link
This should be making headlines around the world.