Livestock losses to Montana wildfires are still being sorted out a month after the blazes erupted.
At least 248 cattle were killed in the Ashland Complex of fires, according to the U.S. Farm Service Agency. With ranchers still rounding up cattle from the southern Montana fires, it’s unknown how much higher losses might climb.
The southern Montana fires consumed more than 20 square miles and displaced more than 10,500 head of cattle, the bulk of which are displaced on Forest Service land.
The Crow Indian Tribe confirmed Wednesday that it has accepted 1,000 head of cattle displaced by the fire. Those animals will graze on leased pasture land.
“All proceeds from the pasture lease amount has gone to the Crow Nation/Bureau of Indian Affairs trust account,” said Cedric Black Eagle, tribal chairman. “The proceeds from the lease will be paid out to all 13,000-plus Crow Tribal members in the form of a per-capita payment on August 10.”
Livestock losses from the Dahl fire near Roundup are also still being assessed. FSA has yet to receive any livestock loss reports from that fire, which destroyed 73 homes. Wednesday, Sasha Hyland of the nonprofit Montana Awareness Education Recreation Association, which has offered stables to displaced horses, flew the Dahl fire with Billings pilot Brandie Emmett looking for lost livestock.
“We did see six cows in the middle of a burn area on one side and a cow and calf on another side and then a lone paint horse,” Hyland said.
Hyland said she marked the map coordinates for the animals and will follow up by contacting landowners to see if they’re aware of the animals.
Hyland’s group opened its Belgrade stables to horses displaced by fires earlier this summer and provided lost and found information on its website. Hyland said about 20 horses were helped.
Roughly half made it to her Belgrade ranch, while the rest were relocated to pastures closer to home. She said the extra animals and dry summer conditions have depleted her hay stocks somewhat.
Hyland plans to fly the Ashland Complex fire area in about a week.