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Ranchers assessing death loss, stray cattle location after snow storm

Nanci Pratt

Late spring blizzards in the High Plains aren’t very common, especially on the last day of April. Farmers and ranchers in southeastern Colorado, western Kansas and the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles are now dealing with the aftermath. They’ve been digging out, dealing with electricity losses and searching for missing cattle in snowdrifts, rain and mud conditions.

According to www.krdo.com, May 2, in Springfield, Colorado, hundreds of Baca County cattle have been lost or were killed during the blizzard. Reports are saying up to 30 inches of snow fell in that part of the state. Reports from throughout the area are that the cattle death losses could reach thousands of head throughout the affected region.

According to Facebook posts, the Baca County Conservation District suggests ranchers who have lost animals to document the losses with photographs and have an updated inventory of their livestock on hand. The Farm Service Agency handles the Livestock Indemnity Program, and if it is triggered by this weather event, documentation of losses will be critical for applying for disaster payments.

Some owners are working to locate stray animals. In Kansas, contact the Kansas Department of Agriculture, Division of Animal Health at 785-564-6601. In Colorado, call the brand office at 303-869-9160 or visit www.colorado.gov/pacific/agbrands. In Oklahoma visit http://ag.ok.gov/ais/ or call the Oklahoma Department of Agriclutre Food and forestry, Animal Industry Division at 405-522-6141. In Texas, call 1-800-835-5832 or visit www.texasagriculture.gov/. Have a description, including brands and tags if possible, available when making contact.

Also check with local law enforcement agencies, as they may have reports or know the whereabouts of missing animals. Social media has photos of brands and ear tags circulating as well.

Meteorologist Marc Russell of the National Weather Service told the Garden City Telegram snowdrifts as deep as 4 feet were reported in Syracuse, Kansas. Heavier snowfall spanned farther west, but the wetness of the snow made it very difficult for NWS officials to get accurate measurements.

Wind speeds were sustained up to around 40 miles per hour and slightly above that, according to the NWS, with wind gusts at or above 55 mph, but did not surpass 60 mph. Winds raged in southwestern Kansas during much of the day April 30, and shortly after 5 p.m. were still moving at about 36 mph, with gusts nearly reaching 50 mph. Temperature forecasts for the region are expected to reach the 70s and 80s by May 6.