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Livestock Death From Winter Storm

The cleanup of this weekends blizzard in western South Dakota continues with efforts from multiple groups around the state. As cleanup continues there's good news and bad news.

The good news is the search for missing elk hunters in the black hills is being dismissed. Major Bruce Kipp with the Civil Air Patrol says there were two reports of missing hunters and planes went out searching in remote areas.  

"Then it was discovered that the two initial reports were incorrect, so the decision was made to keep the aircraft on the ground until such time as any confirmed missing person report was forwarded to us. In which case we would have reactivated the mission," Kipp says.

Kipp says a growing concern  is the condition of livestock in western South Dakota. He says several reports are coming in informing of dead livestock near the shoulders of roads. Kipp says he has civil air patrol planes gathering pictures and information regarding the status of livestock.

"I've just spoken with the mission commander a little while back and he said of course they've found dead livestock in those state right aways and live one's, wondering around. So they are photographing, we have special cameras that when you take the picture it also gives the geographic coordinates of the object being photographed," Kipp says.

Kipp says there could be thousands of dead livestock as a result of this winter storm. He says more information should be available regarding the livestock status once crews are back on the ground and the data can be reviewed.

Silvia Christen is the executive director for the South Dakota Stock Grower Association. She says it’s not looking good at this point when looking at the farmers perspective.

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"It’s really hard to get a total number at this point, we’ll have that later in the week. But it is drastic enough, I’m hearing from individual ranchers who are reporting losses on their livestock. Anywhere from 20 percent loss to complete and total losses to their operations. Ranchers losing one hundred, sometimes two hundred, three hundred or more head of cattle that they’re just finding dead and coming out of the snow drifts now," Christen says.

Christen says this could be devastating financially for ranchers and farmers. She says some of the cattle being found dead are cattle that are ready to be sold. Christen says some dead cattle are carrying unborn calves as well that would have been next years livestock. County crews in the western part of the state are continuing to assist farmers and ranchers in locating their livestock with hopes of finding them alive.

Nate Wek is currently the sports content producer and sports and rec beat reporter for South Dakota Public Broadcasting. He is a graduate of South Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism Broadcasting and a minor in Leadership. From 2010-2013 Nate was the Director of Gameday Media for the Sioux Falls Storm (Indoor Football League) football team. He also spent 2012 and 2013 as the News and Sports Director of KSDJ Radio in Brookings, SD. Nate, his wife Sarah, and two kids Braxan and Jordy, live in Canton, SD.