USA –– A Montana wildfire destroyed almost 249,000 acres in less than two weeks has killed almost half of a cattle producers 800-plus herd and seriously burned more.
Ranchers are assessing the damage to their operations following the wildfire in southeastern Montana but the total damage wont be known for a few months. KPAX in Missoula, Mont., reports Cecil Kolka lost an estimated 400 cows and calves that were unable to escape the blaze. Kolka anticipates further losses as he continues to find dead animals in his pastures and some livestock arent expected to survive severe burns.
The Associated Press reports some of Kolkas cattle were burned so badly their hides were peeling. Some surviving cattle have been shot in mercy killings, others are limping on burnt hooves.
Kolkas home was spared in the 390-square-mile fire.
“Before we found our cattle we said at least we’ve got our homes and are all safe,” Delores Kolka told the AP. “In truth, we would have rather lost everything here except our cattle.”
Many cattlemen in the area have lost cattle, leading the USDA Farm Service Agency to create three programs, offering resources including emergency grazing land previously set aside in the Conservation Reserve Program.