Wildfires in Washington over the past two-and-a-half weeks have claimed hundreds of cattle and scorched grazing lands, leaving ranchers with smaller herds and few options for feeding the remaining cattle.
The Carlton complex fire, originating from four separate fires after a July 14 lightning storm, now encompasses 251,025 acres, officials said Wednesday.
Total cattle deaths in the Carlton complex fire already number "more than local officials say they’ve ever seen," the Seattle Times reported Tuesday.
Doug Hale, environmental health specialist for Okanogan County Public Health, told the paper the fire was so fast-moving, the cattle didn’t have time to get out of the way.
About 215 cattle were also found in the Chillwist area, and though exact numbers of dead cattle haven’t been tallied, Hale told the paper; 90 more were identified in nearby canyons.
Officials will inspect and try to identify animals by brand or ear tag and determine who owned them, the paper said.
According to NWCN, ranchers will also determine how to rebuild damaged fences and restore grasslands.
"These guys are not going to have spring and fall pasture for at least two seasons," Okanogan County Commissioner Jim Detro said last week.
Ranchers are also concerned about state and federal permissions for grazing, NWCN says.