PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — State Veterinarian Dustin Oedekoven estimates that 15,000 to 30,000 head of livestock died in the early autumn blizzard that hit western South Dakota nearly two weeks ago.
Oedekoven earlier estimated the livestock loss at 10,000 to 20,000, but he says reports from ranchers, emergency officials and others caused him to increase his estimate.
Some ranchers have reported heavy losses of a half or more of their cattle herds after the animals were soaked with rain and then were hit by heavy snow and high winds.
Oedekoven says ranchers who have voluntarily reported to his office have said they lost more than 7,100 cattle, 250 sheep and 92 horses, but he knows the loss is far greater than that because most ranchers have been too busy to report.