Northwest Cattle Ranchers Struggling With Wildfires

Aug 7, 2014

Northwest cattle ranchers are struggling to get their herds out of the way of raging wildfires. Some herds have been lost, others badly injured.

File photo of cattle receiving fresh water and feed after being stressed by fire.
Credit Kay Ledbetter / Texas A and M AgriLife Extension Service

Many ranchers are dealing with the blackened aftermath of the fires: moonscapes with no grass, available water or fence lines.

Jack Field, executive vice president of the Washington Cattlemen’s Association, is a rancher himself.

“I’m right here in the corral,” he said. “So they’re probably not going to cooperate very well with us here.”

Field said a few ranchers have lost more than a hundred animals in the fires this summer. But he added that what worries some ranchers the most is two more months of fire season — and the years in front of them without government grazing lands.

“They’re going to have to find an entire grazing season to replace,” he said. “Not just two and a half months or three months.”

Northwest hay farmers have trucked hundreds of tons of donated hay to the wildfire areas. But Field said there is still a great need for animal feed and fencing supplies.

The Washington Cattlemen’s Association is accepting donations for feed, fencing supplies and household items for ranchers and their herds affected by wildfires. They can be reached at 509-925-9871.