Grim horse toll in South Dakota blizzard

Share
Location of South Dakota in the USA.
Location of South Dakota in the USA.

The horse toll from the major blizzard that struck South Dakota appears likely to number several hundred, with cattle losses from the storm likely to be in the tens of thousands.

Authorities are still trying to get a handle on cattle losses from the storm.

No official figures are available on horses losses, but individual news reports across the state point to ranchers losing significant numbers of animals.

One ranch alone reported the loss of 90 horses used at a summer camp.

The western part of the state was hardest hit in the storm, from October 4 to 7, which brought bitterly cold winds and a heavy snow dumping.

Ranchers were being encouraged to document their losses.

In some cases, ranchers have lost up to half their cattle herds.

Agriculture is South Dakota’s main industry, generating over $US21 billion in annual economic activity and employing more than 122,000 South Dakotans.

Governor Dennis Daugaard called on South Dakotans to assist ranchers who had experienced losses by donating to the Rancher Relief Fund set up to help them.

“I have driven across western South Dakota and seen the devastation from this storm first-hand,” Daugaard said.

“With the government shutdown and no farm bill in place, we need South Dakotans to help their neighbors. Many concerned individuals are wondering how they can help, and this fund will provide a way.”

The fund was established by the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, Stockgrowers Association and Sheep Growers Association, in conjunction with the Black Hills Area Community Foundation to provide support and assistance to impacted producers.

“Like our ancestors, we will persevere in the face of hardship by helping one another. Our ranchers need to know that they are not facing this alone,” Daugaard said.

Nebraska state Senator Al Davis, a rancher from Hyannis, said: “Things here are far worse than I anticipated in terms of deaths among cattle.”

The South Dakota Department of Agriculture has conducted an aerial survey of the affected region and continues to work with the Brand Board, Animal Industry Board and Office of Emergency Management to coordinate response efforts.

Cattle losses have also been reported in northwest Nebraska, southern South Dakota and eastern Wyoming.

 

20 thoughts on “Grim horse toll in South Dakota blizzard

  • October 15, 2013 at 11:58 pm
    Permalink

    We still have no word on the wild horses that are in contracted long term holding in South Dakota but will share the information as soon as it is acquired.

    Reply
    • October 16, 2013 at 9:20 am
      Permalink

      Everyone needs to understand that this is a National Emergency, just the same as Katrina, or the Gulf Oil Spills. Just because the media does not feel it is significant to cover. It is astronomical in numbers of animal losses, not only to cattle and domesticated horses, but also to the wild horse bands and all of the wild animals who roam these areas. Do not forget that these Ranchers are no different than anyone else, when it comes to heartbreak. We should all pitch in to help these people get back on their feet, and stop being so greedy, about something we know nothing about. We are all people, and let us show compassion and reach out a helping hand, to some who would be willing to reach out one to you. This, this horrible storm could happen anywhere, you and yours can be gone in an instant. Offer help, not judgement.

      Reply
      • October 17, 2013 at 4:02 pm
        Permalink

        the response to Katrina and the Gulf were not adequate… we need to use our National Guard & military to help at home…I am ashamed at the lack of response to our national disasters.

        Reply
      • December 11, 2013 at 8:17 pm
        Permalink

        I am so sorry. I heard from Society to preserve mustangs and burros, of the extent of losses. They said 73,000 animals lost. I can’t imagine the pain. Here I cry and it is maybe a second killing since this past weekend storm and so cold.Our media is so intent on dumbing us down! We need to UNITE as a Nation and pull together for you, pray and ask forgiveness for taking our resources for granted. We’ve been so very blessed! Now His hand has pulled back!

        Reply
  • October 16, 2013 at 2:50 am
    Permalink

    What about the horses? I could care less about the cattlemen. They are insured and subsidized. Persevere? Oh heck yes, they’ll prosper not just persevere..

    Reply
    • October 16, 2013 at 8:21 am
      Permalink

      Your comment illustrates your ignorance. Go find out how that amazing insurance is supposed to work, where all that goverment money is not going, and educate yourself about the actual processes involved. THEN you open your mouth. While you’re at it, instead of feeling good about yourself because you think you made a witty comment on the internet, go do something good with your time. Go volunteer in a soup kitchen or something else useful.

      Reply
    • October 16, 2013 at 11:35 am
      Permalink

      what do you mean who cares about the cattle…….shame on you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i am sickened by your post……….ummm…..most farmers and ranchers don’t have insurance on every single animal they own……..and even still….a horse, a cow, a goat a pig…………….it’s a life lost and the family feels that loss…….SHAME ON YOU!!!!!!!

      Reply
    • October 16, 2013 at 6:46 pm
      Permalink

      Terri, your comment shows your ignorance. Cattlemen have never been ‘subsidized’ because they do not want government interference in their day to day lives. They may get help in a drought situation but usually that is minimal and doesnt pay for the cost of an animal.
      When I had cattle I did have insurance but I was one of the very few that carried it.
      Im a little confused at how you think they will ‘prosper’. You need to go work on a working cattle ranch and get your head out of your butt. There is a saying….If you cant dazzle them with your intelligence….baffle them with your bullshit. Great job!

      Reply
    • October 18, 2013 at 6:26 am
      Permalink

      I hope you never experience a tragedy. With your attitude, I wonder how many people would step forward to help and comfort you in your time of need.

      Reply
  • October 16, 2013 at 8:46 am
    Permalink

    Terri: Not all the ranchers were insured, insurance for livestock makes it cost prohibitive in a lot of cases, and what subsidy do ranchers receive who raise livestock, especially cattle?
    There is going to be a lot of death loss in South Dakota, horses,deer,elk,grouse and pheasant died in the storm I will bet. There are few really wild horses that at one time were referred to as “Mustangs”, the wild horse as we know it, in all actuality is a feral horse that was once domesticated. Some people have turned them loose rather than to take care of them. The horse slaughter plant wasn’t intended to eradicate the Mustang. It was used to keep the numbers down in a sustainable manner. If there are big numbers of feral horse deaths it might in all actuality be a result of them not being able to cope with the adverse weather conditions, because the gene pool has been affected by domestic horses being introduced to the herds.
    The cattle losses are all due to the fact that cattle are domesticated species and dependent on human care, these ranchers did all they could to save their herds and now they are basically out of business for a while as a result of the storms.
    The split between the rancher and the wild horse people is because the horse savers who turned the domesticated horses loose weakened the gene pool.
    These cattle ranchers raise domestic cattle for market to feed the masses.
    saying you don’t care about the cattle is what prompts me not to care about the wild horse. The gene pool has been depleted and you people have no way to bring it back to how it once was. The army turned out and lost a lot of horses in days gone by, the farmers, ranchers and as well as city people who had horses lost animals to escape sequences, we have been tarnishing the gene pool of the Mustang since the time of the conquistadors. We got no one to blame for that but the intervention of man.
    If you lost your means of making a living as a direct result of this storm, how would you like to be ridiculed by someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about? Nature has a way of controlling its animal population, man has the means to destroy it. people here don’t eat many horses. They eat a lot of beef. Even a vegetarian doesn’t realize what animals they displace with the growing of vegetables. as far as i Am concerned you need a reality check!

    Reply
    • October 16, 2013 at 9:25 am
      Permalink

      “Even a Vegetarian doesn’t realize what animals they displace with the growing of vegetables”. REALLY?
      Did you know that it takes 13-16 pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef?
      Did you know that 70% of the grain grown in this country is fed to animals?
      Who is displacing who here?
      I SAVE the lives of 100 animals per year by not eating them. Farmers will only grow what the market demands.
      It seems like no one is feeling any empathy for the poor cattle that were frozen to death. What the heck, I guess since they were going to be murdered anyway, who cares?

      Reply
      • October 18, 2013 at 6:11 am
        Permalink

        “Who cares?” We all care. Obviously you cannot fathom the pain and heartbreak these folks have endured as a result of this freak blizzard. Those animals meant a lot to them financially and emotionally. Farmers and ranchers do care about the health & comfort of the livestock they raise.

        Reply
    • October 16, 2013 at 10:04 am
      Permalink

      The sad part about all this is, the fact that people continue to badger people about things that they know nothing about. We all have no choice but to make do with what we have when something like this happens. This is such a tragedy for all involved, the fact that these people and all people lost so much is horrible. But the time has come to quit the arguing and the constant fighting, as we cannot bring back the animals weather domesticated or wild, that are deceased. Now is the time to stop pointing fingers and all of us rally together to help right this wrong. It does not matter if you don’t eat meat or not, what matters is, These people need a helping hand and we are American Citizens, lets do what we do. Get up and help each other out. This could happen to any one of us at any time. Wouldn’t you like a helping hand, or would you prefer a kick in the teeth, remember the day may come where you reach out for help. What then.

      Reply
    • October 16, 2013 at 5:29 pm
      Permalink

      The SD situation is tragic, but there seems to be a news blackout (or is that a whiteout???) about the wild horses confined by the BLM there.

      James, a few thoughts, offered respectfully.

      First, the Spanish were not the original source of horses in the Americas by any stretch of the imagination. Many many historical sources bring this to light if you investigate, and more seem to come to light whenever I look, as I do, for new science.

      Second, introduction of various estray or intentionally loosed horses doesn’t deplete a gene pool, it diversifies and strengthens it. The poor hoofed genes, for example, are literal genetic dead ends since those horses won’t survive long in the wild. Think hybrid vigor.

      Third, there is really no genetic distinction between a mustang and any other horse. There are some allele variations of course, due to isolated herds and genetic mutations over time, but they are all the exact same species. Even the Spanish blood is found scattered throughout wild herds.

      Fourth, even though it is a felony to send BLM (publicly owned and protected) wild horses to slaughter, it has been repeatedly documented but not punished.

      Fifth, there is so far no word on the status of the 1,400 wild horses confined in two long-term holding areas in South Dakota. This week, captured horses held at the PVC complex in Nevada were found to have one empty water tank in a pen holding over 60 head (a tank the size I use for two horses), though someone had come and put out hay. Do I need to mention a private citizen who adopts a wild horse would be in serious violation for such lapses? Any good rancher knows you tend your animals first, and that food and water are non-negotiable necessities.

      During the shutdown, all these confined wild horses are supposed to be getting food and water, but we the people who own them can’t get any reliable information, it seems to be nonexistent. I hope that’s not the same for those trapped horses.

      Reply
      • October 18, 2013 at 5:25 am
        Permalink

        Thank you for your info. I would also like to add that the gene pool was depleted by mustangers taking the best from the herd and selling them in the 1800s. Leaving the scrub to breed and produce more scrub. the strong do survive, when “good stock did escape it was a good thing, and some times a bad thing(for the stock not quite used to being wild) but either adapt or parish. Ranchers feed us, the mustang helped tame the west and brought us through to today all deserve our respect and care. Thank you

        Reply
        • October 18, 2013 at 12:33 pm
          Permalink

          Starshot, true enough words. However, good blooded stock were also turned out to improve rancher’s own herds as well, in multiple locations, so that fact dilutes your thesis. It’s true good horses were taken out, but so were scrubs (for the canners) while good studs were left out in the wild to continue breeding. I doubt there’s any good way to prove if a gene pool was improved or deleted by these historical actions.

          However, it has been recently documented by Dr. Gus Cothran that the Pryor Mountain herd under BLM management is in fact beginning to show genetic decline from inbreeding resulting from intentional herd reductions by the BLM. See The Cloud Foundation for this report.

          In addition, horses did more than “tame the west.” As native species to the Americas they evolved here and belong in these ecosystems. Cattle and sheep are unarguably introduced, invasive species which we humans have introduced to provide our own food, but at great cost to our shared environment and our fellow species. Surely we sentient ones can do better.

          Reply
  • October 18, 2013 at 11:45 am
    Permalink

    Why will vegetarians not eat meat but will eat vegetables grown in that animals shit? There hasn’t been any true Wild Horses in our country in hundreds of years. I think it is sad that the media doesn’t think any if this is important enough to report to the entire country.

    Reply
  • October 19, 2013 at 6:33 am
    Permalink

    This is a mega-tragedy. I am absolutely apalled at the lack of empathy for the cattlemen. While I do not live in the West where publicly owned land is involved, I have lived in or adjacent to agricultural agrees all of my life. Regardless of how you feel about eating animals, farmers and rachers produce food for people to eat. This is an honorable line of work, and people who raise food for a living do not see themselves as evil. The production of both plant and animal food goes back to the beginning of time. Human beings are equipped physiologically with the ability to consume both meat and plants.

    We want our animals treated with kindness to from birth until death, yet we have no room in our hearts for ranchers and farmers who know a lot more about animal health and welfare than many non-animal owning animal welfare advocates. When I have a health question about one of my horses, I do not ask an advocate—unless that advocate is also an animal owner or guardian.

    For those of us who love wild horses, the people we need to be partnering with are the ranchers and farmers who graze land in the areas where the horses are. These are the people fighting to be able to make a living using land the same way that horses need to use it. They should be our allies. Instead. we’ve been schooled that they are the energy. The enemy of both ranchers and horses is a government that works against both ranchers and human beings who love and treasure their wild horses. Horse welfare people must work the agricultural community, not against it.

    Prayers for all who have suffered in this tragedy. These cattle, horses, and other animals suffered as they froze to death is the cold, wet snow. A heavy coat is little protection from the wet. People who raise animals for a living are not indifferent to the suffering of their animals. I cannot imagine the horror these ranchers and their families must have felt when they saw their dead animals—sure, they are sick about their financial losses—but just the massive amount of suffering they have to see.

    Just because a rancher or a farmer cannot allow himself to become attached to his animals in the same way thet we who keep animals for pets and pleasure do, does not mean that they do not care about their animal’s suffering or that they do not have feelings of ambivalence when they take their animals to auction. They have to see their work as a form of service to their fellow human beings and for our creator; still, there are hard days for them, too.

    We will have better animal welfare in this country when we have better humans. If we want better humans, then we all need to start where we are which is with ourselves. Grow some empathy.

    Reply
  • October 24, 2013 at 4:35 am
    Permalink

    While some uncharitable remarks have been foolishly posted against cattleman, there has been nothing posted that a sensible person should be “appalled” by. Reacting that way is no better than the vitriol posted against cattlemen.

    Every day I drive 127 miles to work across western South Dakota and the piles of dead cattle at roadside are the truly appalling thing. And PLENTY OF PEOPLE care. Were that not true why would the talk on this topic center mainly on cattle, when it is a horse site? Hundreds of thousands are pouring into cattleman relief funds and I have donated myself. The volunteers manning the phones at these relief operations are wonderful people.

    Horse advocacy on the other hand has been awful, with people criticizing wild horse operations for the blizzard die-off even though no other group with livestock has faired any better, and even though the wildlife was hard hit as well, particularly the pronghorn population. Apparently 50 million years of evolution didn’t prepare them for this blizzard. The Rainbow Bible Ranch near Sturgis, SD lost 90 quarter horses, and they took every sensible precaution, relocating their herd to wind-sheltred breaks, but it made no difference. Freezing rain followed by heavy snowfall produced hypothermia few survived, and in addition, due to the record breaking warm September, the horses were without their usual winter coats, which was like tossing an anvil to a drowning man. Our trees still have leaves, and at my home in Sturgis, oak trees which stood in my yard for sixty years, against all weathers, crashed to the ground. I lost half my trees.

    Finally–there are 3 wild horse locations in SD, the sanctuary in Hot Springs, the ISPMB conservation center in Lantry, and Jill Star maintains a herd on the Pine Rodge Reservation. ISPMB lost over 50 horses to the blizzrd, but does not fail to care about the livestock loss suffered by their rancher neighbors. Mitakuye Oyasin, we are all related, and all in this together.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *