Morton County helps with carcass removal
By LeAnn Eckroth
The Morton County Commission on Dec 19 approved using county equipment and crews to remove 130 cattle carcasses from the frozen Cannonball River. Dick Ressler’s animals drowned after they fell through the ice.
The County Highway Department planned to remove the 45 cows and 85 calves on Dec. 23, Morton County Emergency Manager Tom Doering said Dec. 20. The carcasses are located about 33 miles south of Mandan, where the Cannonball River meets the Missouri River. County officials hoped to finish the retrieval in one day.
Doering said the animals somehow fell into the river between Dec. 7 and 9, during snow and wind chills of 30 below zero. He said they may have huddled together and fell in while walking on unsteady ice. The river width is now about 30 feet to 40 feet across.
“It’s a big loss,” Ressler said.
The county will be reimbursed up to $5,000 through state Environmental Cleanup funds for actual costs of the removal. “The distinction is the state Department of Health, state veterinarian Susan Keller and the Agriculture Department have declared an emergency due to a public health hazard,” Doering said. “In state Century Code, diseased animals have to be disposed of within a certain amount of time.”
Doering said the county highway department will break open the frozen river with a backhoe. An attachment may be added to
the equipment’s bucket to retrieve the dead animals.
Ressler said he plans to move all the carcasses to a rendering plant in
Long Prairie, Minn. The company wants to use the animals’ hides, said Doering.
Ressler leases the grazing land from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The corps approved a permit to excavate the animals from the river, said Doering.