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About 2 dozen cattle drown in Missouri River north of Bismarck

The cattle fell into the river about 40 miles north of Bismarck and their carcasses have been washing up in Morton and Burleigh County.

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The Missouri River, Bismarck ND

BISMARCK — Approximately 25 cattle fell into the Missouri River near Washburn late last week, and in the past few days their carcasses have been traveling south and washing ashore, with some found in Morton and Burleigh counties.

The cattle were grazing near the Missouri River about 40 miles north of Bismarck when they walked onto the river and fell through the ice sometime on Wednesday, March 3, said Oliver County Sheriff David Hilliard. The rancher estimates about 25 of his cattle are missing. Carcasses have been washing ashore in the days since they fell into the river in Oliver County and have drifted all the way into Morton and Burleigh Counties, Hilliard said.

Retrieving the cattle from the Missouri River may be challenging because of varied ice conditions and other difficult spots for retrieval, said Karl Rockeman, director of the Division of Water Quality within the Department of Environmental Quality.

He said they are providing assistance to the rancher in retrieving the cattle, and it is ultimately up to the rancher about what to do with their carcasses.

If a member of the public comes across a steer carcass along the Missouri River, they are encouraged to call Rockeman at 701-328-5225.


Readers can reach reporter Michelle Griffith, a Report for America corps member, at

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