Over the past month, California has received a massive amount of rain and snowfall, threatening both people and livestock. As with most emergencies, the helpers are finding ways to save both, whether it’s rescuing stranded hikers on a mountain or, in this case, using an unusual method to help cattle ranchers feed their cows. The sherriff’s office there has decided to drop haybails from helicopters.
Insider writes, “California’s National Guard started “Operation Hay Drop” last week, coordinating with Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office and other local authorities to deliver hay to cows stranded in snowy remote areas.
In a video, the Sheriff’s Office said the efforts began when about 30 ranchers in southern Humboldt reached out with concerns about their stranded cows.
‘We’ve had some unprecedented weather over the last two weeks and we’ve received multiple reports of cattle dying off because ranchers cannot get to their cows due to impassable roadways,’ Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal said. ‘These cattle are an economic driver, they’re starving and they’re calving right now. So all those things necessitate some drastic measures.’
Public officials were reminded of similar situations in the 1980s, when ranchers requested help getting hay to their cattle after a series of heavy snowfall.”
— The California National Guard (@CalGuard) March 9, 2023
NPR reported that authorities collected coordinates of stranded cattle herds and then flew out looking for cows.
“The pilots are looking essentially for tracks in the snow,” Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal told the station. “They’ll drop the hay in the area where they are, and what they found is [the cows] start coming out from under the trees and going towards the hay as soon as the helicopter takes off.”
Robert Puga was one of the ranchers who was facing a crisis without the hay from Heaven. “If it wasn’t for them, I guarantee you 110% there’d be thousands of cattle that are dying. Thousands.”
Operation Hay Drop has been a breathtaking success so far, Puga said. The current mission has saved about 2,500 head of cattle over several miles from starvation.