SOUTH DAKOTA — By the time his life ended in Sarajevo at the hands of Gavrilo Princip, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria had engineered the “feudal mass slaughter” of 274,889 game animals. The Archduke hunted an average of 4,500 animals for every year he was alive.

Photo Credit:
Up to 100,000 cattle are estimated to have died in South Dakota. Photo Credit:

However, natural disasters can have an equally devastating effect on animals. A couple of weeks ago, Mother Nature put the Archduke to shame.

In four days, Atlas, the blizzard which struck the Northern Great Plains of the United States, dropped over 58 inches of snow with 70 mph winds, killing an estimated 100,000 cattle in South Dakota.  As a prelude, torrential rain pounded the cattle who at this time of year lack the winter coats that protect them from harsh conditions. What happened next is nothing short of tragic.

Carrie Mess described the scene:

“The cows tried to protect themselves. They hid in low spots away from the wind. The low spots where the rain had turned the ground to thick mud. Some got stuck in the mud. Some laid down to get away from the wind, to rest a little, they were tired from trying to get away from the weather when they were already so cold.

The snow came down so heavy and so fast the the low spots that the cattle were laying in filled with snow. Not a few inches of snow, not a foot of snow. Enough snow that the cows and their calves were covered in snow.

The cows and calves suffocated or froze to death.”

The image of a family of cattle dying in such conditions is upsetting, to say the least, but the image of these same cattle dying in a slaughterhouse is equally lamentable. So while coverage of this story has focused on the pain of the ranchers at being unable to profit from their death, maybe Mother Nature saved these animals from a much more gruesome and painful death at the slaughterhouse.

If you are interested in helping animals affected in natural disasters, please consider donating to the Global Animal Foundation.

— Israel Igualate, exclusive to Global Animal

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