Ranchers donate cattle to those who lost everything to wildfires in SW KS

Published: Mar. 21, 2017 at 10:51 PM CDT
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The recovery continues fro those affected by this month's wildfires. In the past several weeks, a lot of help has come from across Kansas with hay donations, food, clothes and money

Now, ranchers are donating cattle to those who have lost everything in southwest Kansas. Thousands of acres also burned in Reno County, but most ranchers in that area did not lose any livestock.

When one Reno County rancher heard about the thousands of cattle killed in the Ashland area in Clark County in southwest Kansas, he decided he had to do something.

Reno County rancher Mark Albrecht keeps 40 cow-calf pairs in his heard. He says luck has been on his side this year with all of the herd surviving this year.

He says he knew he needed to help when he heard about the ranchers near Ashland who had entire herds killed by fire.

"It's just a traumatic event," he says. "Literally millions of dollars have been lost."

Albrecht is donating two cows and a bull to ranches in the Ashland area. He also posted on the Kansas Farmers and Ranchers Facebook page, asking if anyone else would be interested in donating.

The first goal was to get five or six head to help out ranchers near Ashland.

"Within 10 hours, we got 33 head (of cattle) to send out there," he says.

A dozen head came from Nebraska. One came from as far away as Indiana. The rest came from Reno County.

"I had no idea it would reach out that far," Albrecht says. "Had not a clue. It's overwhelming. We try to take care of our own when times are really bad, and that's what it's about."

He says his motivation to help is also personal. He says years ago, his family had 1,000 acres of grass burned.

"I know what it's like to have something taken from you in the twinkle of an eye," Albrecht says. "I've been in their shoes, and it's good that I can at least be here to help, even just a little bit. I just want them to know they're not alone."

Donations will be brought out to SW Kansas in a couple of months, to allow the grass to grow back.

A vet in Ashland who is helping orchestrate donations says 3,000-4,000 heads of cattle and nearly as many calves have died because of the fires. More are euthanized every day because of complications.

Ranchers wishing to help those in southwest Kansas by donating cattle can get involved by calling 580-305-0769.