Thursday, January 04, 2007
CHIEFTAIN PHOTOS/CHRIS McLEAN
Cows run from a helicopter about 15 miles southeast of Lamar on Tuesday. The Colorado National Guard fed thousands of cattle by dropping bales of hay from a Black Hawk helicopter.
Choppers to the rescue
National Guard air crews, ranchers join forces to drop bales of hay to stranded cattle in Southeastern Colorado.
By JAMES AMOS
THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN
LAMAR - Ranchers across Southeastern Colorado either tried to reach their cattle or hoped the Colorado Army National Guard could Tuesday as the animals stood in 3- to 4-foot deep snow.
Helicopter crews operated out of the airports near Lamar, Springfield and Las Animas to reach the animals. Aircrew members joined forces with ranchers, who volunteered to help on the flights, to throw out bales of hay to the stranded animals and, where possible, landed to break the ice in cattle water tanks.
Leonard Pruett, a cattle specialist for the Colorado State University Extension Service, said ranchers have been calling to ask for the hay bale flights, but aircrews also have helped whatever isolated animals they see.
"If we see cattle out there that don't look like they've been fed, we'll drop hay to them," Pruett said. "We're doing everything we can to make sure they survive.
Ranchers will be charged for the cost of the hay, but not the cost of flying it to the animals, he said.
The region has an estimated 340,00 head of cattle, but officials at the Lamar airdrop operation center said they figure all but 100,00 of those cattle are safe in feedlots. The rest are sprinkled in herds across the plains and valleys of Otero, Las Animas, Baca, Bent and Cheyenne counties.
The feeding operation began Tuesday. Pruett said it will last several days before ranchers can reach their animals themselves.
I have great empathy with the farmers and the ranchers. I am considered myself a wannabe rancher ;)
Seriously I am praying that these cattles are saved!!