Colorado Forest Service may blow up frozen cows
CO, United States (AHN) – How do you get rid of a herd of frozen cows stuck on a mountain?
This is no joke and there is no punch line. This is the question forest officials are facing in Colorado.
The Colorado Forest Service is considering using explosives to dislodge a group of cows that meandered into an old ranger cabin located high up in the steep Rocky Mountains, died, then froze solid when they couldn’t escape.
The carcasses were discovered in late March by two Air Force Academy cadets when the traveled up to the cabin on snow-shoes.
Rangers surmise the animals wandered into the cabin to seek shelter during a snowstorm, became stuck, and couldn’t find their way out.
The cabin is situated near the Conundrum Hot Springs, a nine-mile hike from the Aspen area in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness area.
According to a spokesperson for the Wilderness Society in Colorado, cattle are often allowed to roam on federal wilderness lands as long as ranchers obtain a permit from the Forest Service. Sometimes, the animals get separated from the herd.
The Forest Service confirmed Tuesday that the animals came from a herd of 29 cows that went missing in the fall of last year from the nearby Gunnison National Forest, where the cow’s rancher had a permit.
A foot and aerial search followed, but failed to locate any sign of the animals.
The Forest Service needs to decide quickly how to dispose of the carcasses. The weather is getting warmer, the snow is melting, and they don’t want the cows defrosting.
Options include using explosives to break up the cows, burn down the cabin, or using helicopters or trucks to haul out the dead cows.
Using helicopters is too expensive and rangers worry that using trucks will disrupt the wilderness area that the government works so hard to preserve.
Burning the cabin or using the explosives appears to be the choices. The Forest Service occasionally uses explosives to remove dead horse, elk and other animals.