From Kansas Agland:
ELKHART – The Cimarron National Grassland implemented an emergency closure of part of its property in December after seven cattle were found dead.
The 108,000-acre Morton County grassland imposed the Dec. 18 order due to the potential hazardous airborne conditions that may be present. It includes four sections – roughly 2,600 acres – including Stirrup Oil Field, located along the Cimarron River corridor north of Rolla.
The closure involves all motorized and nonmotorized access until at least May 1, or until rescinded, said the grassland’s District Ranger Lance Brown.
The grassland is leased each year by the Morton County Grazing Association. The association’s range riders found the seven cattle dead toward the end of October – six of the animals found together.
The livestock owners had a necropsy performed on the animals. A veterinarian determined Dec. 16 that the animals had inhaled something that caused them to die.
At first, it was thought the cattle had access outside the panels and drank something, but Brown said it was later determined that probably wasn’t the case.
“It didn’t have the appearance of being malicious,” Brown said, adding they still were looking at everything.
The oil company is doing testing of the area. Working through the Bureau of Land Management, access to the acreage’s seven entry points is barricaded as a precaution.
“It was a very conservative approach,” he added of closing off parts of the grassland. “The grassland took a very conservative approach to ensure public safety.”
The situation is currently being investigated. Once there is absolutely no threat to public safety, the order will be rescinded.