According to Fox News on Friday, ranchers in South Dakota fear they may lose everything after a freak storm dumped up four feet of snow in parts of the state last week, killing as many as 100,000 cattle.
Early estimates suggest western South Dakota lost at least 5 percent of its cattle, said Silvia Christen, executive director of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association. Some individual ranchers reported losses of 20 percent to 50 percent of their livestock, Christen said. The storm killed calves that were due to be sold soon as well as cows that would produce next year’s calves in an area where livestock production is a big part of the economy, she said.
Aside from the economic losses, which will be severe once finally tallied, the unprecedented storm has left an “incredible emotional burden” on the state’s ranchers, Christen said.
NBC News reported that State Agriculture Secretary Lucas Lentsch said ranchers should keep a accounts of their loss with photos to use in later claims.
More than 22,000 homes and businesses in western South Dakota remained without power into this week, according to utility companies. National Guard troops were helping utility crews pull equipment through the heavy, wet snow to install new electricity poles.
At least 1,600 poles were toppled in the northwest part of the state alone, and workers expect to find more, Grand River Electric Coop spokeswoman Tally Seim said.
In the days since the storm, Christen said ranchers are now focusing on providing medical care to the animals that did survive.
“That really has to be the priority before we start counting loss,” she said. “They need to make sure they’re safe and that they stay healthy now.”
Complicating matters is this weekend’s forecast, which calls for heavy rain and strong winds just a week after the early fall blizzard. Crews in South Dakota and North Dakota are also still working to restore power to thousands of customers left in the dark.
The storm also killed a man in the Lead-Deadwood area of South Dakota and damaged numerous buildings, causing at least one to collapse from the weight of snow and relentless winds.
Emily Sutherlin is also the Pregnancy Examiner.
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