An estimated 100 beef cattle drowned after plunging through ice on a reservoir along the Nebraska-South Dakota border.
Rancher Mike Carlow told the Rapid City (S.D.) Journal he had never seen anything like it in his 40 years of ranching.
“I don't ever remember cattle walking out on ice or falling through,” he said.
The cattle belonged to Carlow and his brother, Pat, who ranch on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The losses are estimated at roughly $300,000, and the brothers say the cattle were not insured.
“Hopefully, the Lord will take care of us, and other ranchers will feel our pain, and something good (will) come from this tragic loss,” Carlow said in an AP report here. “Hopefully, we can stay in business.”
According to Bob Fortune, president of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, it is incredibly rare for such a large number of deaths resulting from through ice and drowning.
"I've heard of it happening one or two times in my lifetime," Fortune, a rancher for about 50 years, said. Occasionally, he added, "one or two or three" will drown that way.
Carlow believes a windstorm that blew through the area on Wednesday night could have been responsible for pushing the cattle to seek shelter behind a tree line near the White Clay Reservoir, and the combined weight of the animals that ventured onto the ice was too much for the ice to support.
Many from the community and the surrounding area turned to the Rapid City Journal’s Facebook page to leave their thoughts and prayers for the ranchers.
“That is awful for the cattle and the rancher. What a horrible loss,” one person wrote.
“Oh man, after all the heartbreak from Atlas, seeing more cattle dead in icy water is just too much. I'm so sorry for them and the rancher…” another added.
Others left comments more critical of the brothers.
“As a fellow rancher who has a river running in our land, I never would have my cattle on the north side of it, in the winter especially with no protection. They will drift in a storm and not realize they are on the ice when it gets snow on it. I feel so bad for the cattle and rancher. Such a sad mistake!!”