By Iliana Kranz - CFUR Journalist ***News***
In the summer of 2017, the Elephant Hill wildfire overwhelmed the Canadian province of British Columbia. The fire left 8,944 square kilo meters of burnt land in its wake, destroying homes, barns, and fences. Among the many that were affected by this devastating, record-breaking fire, were ranchers and the ranching community. As people were evacuated and asked to leave behind cattle and other livestock ranchers were faced with some hard decisions. Some chose to stay behind and fight the fires and defend their property. Other ranchers evacuated to safer communities.
However, this did leave some cattle scattered across the range. The jury on the final count of how many cows perished is still out. Kevin Boon, who is the General Manager of the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association says we likely won’t have a reliable number until winter comes. Many cattle bodies have been burnt beyond recognition. It will be hard to track down cows that have wandered off due to the fires pushing them farther away from home.
The breeding season for cattle usually begins in June, however, in early July when the wildfire started the stress to the cattle likely resulted in fewer cows being "wetted" than expected. Boon says pregnancy checks will be covered for any cows that ranchers are uncertain about, as well as 70% of vet costs, for ranchers who have injured cattle. Other news sources have reported, that some cattle have been found with burns so severe that euthanasia is required as it is the only humane response. Boon says the association has had their application to AgriRecovery approved, and an estimated $20 million will be used to help ranchers rebuild. More is going to be needed to lift the spirits of these ranchers, however, and it will be no surprise to see mental health issues arise from this traumatic fire.
Although the burning down of corrals, fences and other infrastructures is devastating, it does provide both the ranchers and the surrounding communities a chance to rebuild in more efficient ways. The government is providing support in the means of 4,200 dollars per kilometer of fence on private land, which Boon says will be very helpful to those who have to rebuild fences.
A big concern from the fires was the burning of hay and feed storage. However, Boon mentions hay and feed required for the cattle which survived are in full supply, and that fellow ranchers have banned together to support one another. This tragedy has brought out a real sense of community for many of these ranchers affected by the fires. It is still unknown the true extent of the damage created by these fires. However, it is clear that the government, community and private sector are stepping up to the plate.
Listen to the full Interview
***CFUR Volunteer Content - created by Iliana Kranz***
***Interview conducted by CFUR News Director - Grant Bachand***