Frozen Cattle in Mountain Cabin May Be Blown Up

Explosives considered a likely solution to remove cattle that grazed their way into a high mountain cabin in Colorado and froze.

Published on: Apr 19, 2012

Forest Service officials in Colorado are wrestling with a big problem - a mountain cabin full of frozen beef cattle.

Officials told the Aspen Daily News they are considering explosives to clear the cattle from an old ranger cabin high in the mountains above Aspen.

The carcasses were discovered by two Air Force Academy cadets when they snowshoed up to the cabin in late March. A Forest Service spokesman says he could see at least six cattle inside the cabin and several more frozen outside the cabin above 12,000 feet elevation.

LIGHT THE FUSE: Cattle frozen in a mountain shack have to be removed to keep bears away from hikers, and prevent contaminating a stream. Dynamite may be the only economical answer.
LIGHT THE FUSE: Cattle frozen in a mountain shack have to be removed to keep bears away from hikers, and prevent contaminating a stream. Dynamite may be the only economical answer.

Although the news media is quite enamored with this find, it is unlikely news to beef producers that grazing cattle would wander into an abandoned building.

These cattle appear to be from a group of 29 head which were missing last fall when the rest of the herd was gathered from a grazing allotment on that section of Forest Service lands, near a place called Conundrum Hot Springs.

Strange as it sounds, the Forest Service says explosives are sometimes used to remove frozen large animals from remote locations such as this.

The cabin is reported to be a nine-mile hike into a wilderness area which is roadless and required to be free of motor vehicles.

The Forest Service is concerned when the cattle begin to thaw they might draw bears, which might endanger human hikers, and/or the carcasses might contaminate the nearby hot springs, a spokesman said.

There is still much snow and access is limited by that as well as the roadless designation. The Forest Service said the options being considered are explosives to break up the cattle carcasses, to burn down the cabin, or to use helicopters or trucks to haul out the carcasses.

He said using helicopters is too expensive and rangers are worried about using trucks in a wilderness area, where the government bans permanent improvements and tries to preserve the natural habitat.

Partitioning the carcasses with saws and removing them by backpack or horseback has been mentioned but in the snowy conditions would seem difficult.