Ranchers Try To Save Starving Cattle

Thursday, November 9th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PLENTYWOOD, Mont. (AP) — As many as 5,000 cattle may be stranded in the 8-foot snowdrifts that have clogged northeastern Montana and North Dakota since last week.

The area near the Canadian border was pelted by an ice-and-snow storm a week ago. A second storm Tuesday kept utility crews from restoring electricity lost when the fierce earlier storm snapped about 500 power poles in a four-county area.

About 200 residents remained without electricity after crews restored power to many of the 1,200 residents who lost electricity after the first storm.

Weather forecasts called for record-low temperatures and more snow for the next four days.

Terry Angvick, Sheridan County agriculture agent, estimated as much as 5,000 head of cattle could be stranded in the county.

Russell Torgerson spent Wednesday plowing through 8-foot snowdrifts to reach his cattle, feed and water them and try to herd them closer to home. He has 360 cows, calves and yearlings stranded on his ranch that straddles the Montana-North Dakota line.

``I'm sure glad I've got a 'dozer on my tractor,'' Torgerson said. ``As much snow as we've got, I'd have never got to them today.''

Torgerson said the early arrival of a big snowstorm caught him off guard. ``We've lived here for 22 years, and I've never seen a snowdrift out in front of the yard here like it is right now,'' he said.

It could be another week before power is fully restored, said Bill Schell, local manager of the Sheridan Electric Cooperative.

``We're getting into rough terrain, and with all the snow, we just can't get in there. It's ugly,'' he said.