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DNR investigating deaths of 17 head of cattle

By Staff | Dec 10, 2014

MOVILLE – An investigation was continuing Monday into the cause of 17 stock cows found dead in a small creek northwest of Moville over the weekend.

Cindy Marten, senior environmental engineer for the Department of Natural Resources, based in Storm Lake, said her office is working with a state veterinarian and the Woodbury County Sheriff’s office.

Marten said drowning may have been the cause if a broken beaver dam, which has been removed, resulted in higher-than-usual creek levels catching the animals off guard after breaking through ice on the creek.

Lt. Charles Hertz, of the Woodbury County Sheriff’s office, said deputies from his office, plus Gary Brown, of Woodbury County Emergency Management Service; Steve Greibel of the DNR; and a state veterinarian were dispatched to the creek site shortly before 2 p.m. Saturday following discovery of the cows by owner Dave Groepper, of Kingley.

“A preliminary evaluation made at this time showed normal pH levels in the water,” Hertz said. “Testing for other abnormalities came back normal with nothing readily apparent.

“Test samples were sent to Storm Lake for a detailed analysis and study by state field veterinarian, Dr. Gregg Schmitt, of Le Mars.

“It is also undetermined at this time whether calmer-than-normal winds may have carried fumes from a nearby anhydrous ammonia facility into the area.

Groepper said he had gone to the pasture site Saturday for his normal check of the cattle where finding only 13 cows and went looking for the additional 17 cows when he found them in the creek.

A complete monetary loss was unavailable on Monday, Groepper said, but among the 17 was a donor cow valued at $15,000.

A donor cow is one selected for top genetics, whose embryos are flushed from her and transferred into other cows for gestation.

Included among other possible causes of the incident is whether the cows may have become frightened and ran into the creek.

Early observations of the animal carcasses, showed no evidence of post-death damage from wildlife in the area.

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