Cattle producers in the Plains reeling after wildfire
April 1, 2016
by Ryan McCarthy
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A fire that started in Woods County Oklahoma March 22, near the southern border of Kansas quickly spread north over the past 10 days, resulting in the most devastating wildfire in Kansas history. Ranchers and farmers in Kansas are reeling from the loss of approximately 300,000 acres of pasture land, tens of thousands of miles of fencing, undetermined loss of livestock and a shortage of hay to feed grazing cattle. High winds and a lack of rain exacerbated the spread of the fire, which was concentrated in Comanche and County and Barber County, an official from the Kansas Livestock Association (KLA) says.
Scarlett Hagins, communications program manager for KLA says a determination of loss of cattle has not yet been made as most ranchers are busy trying to control the damage to their land and property. The fire in Comanche has been put out and the one in Barber County has been contained. Some losses of out buildings and barns have been reported but total damage assessments have not yet been made. Hagins confirms the wildfire occurred at a critical time when calving and grazing is common in the region.
“There are a lot of calves on the ground,” she says, “and we’re getting into grazing season,” with many cattle producers dealing with little or no land for grazing.
Representing 5,500 total members, KLA estimates Comanche and Barber County are home to approximately 80,000 cattle and calves, and thankfully, nearby ranchers and farmers have been generous with donations of hay and fencing material.
“We had a lot of people truck in hay,” says Hagins, with donations coming not only from Kansas but also from nearby states. “They are still getting hay, which is really great," she adds, and now the association’s attention has turned to addressing the need to rebuild fences.
Donation information is available at the Kansas Livestock Foundation website and 100 percent of monetary donations go to aiding those affected by the wildfire.