Dead Cattle in the Fresno River Feared to be Health Threat

August 17, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Residents of the foothill community of Coarsegold are afraid a herd of rotting cattle carcasses may be a threat to their health, and their water supply.The animals were discovered three days ago. It appears the herd stampeded down the sides of the steep river channel and most plunged to their deaths on the rocks below. Madera County Sheriff's Deputies shot and killed several of the wounded survivors of the fall over the weekend. Crews working for the rancher who owns the cattle are having a difficult time removing the carcasses from the steep and rocky channel.

Residents who live along the Fresno River are afraid the dead animals could spread disease and contaminate their water supplies.

There is no water flowing in the channel now, but there are several deep pools of water. The carcasses are piled into one of those pools. When the river is flowing, the pools are popular swimming holes for local children.

Resident Bob Keith says he is concerned about the threat to public health posed by the carcasses. He and others are also angry at their local authorities for failing to take action to remove the threat.

The Madera County Health Department issued a press release on Monday which stated:
"Threats to water quality are likely minimal. However the Madera County Environmental Health Department is looking into the potential impact of possibly affected water systems and private wells in the area."

The cattle, young males culled from dairy herds, were owned by a rancher from Chowchilla. He has been unavailable for comment.

Six animals, which appeared to be healthy were still grazing in the riverbed on Monday.

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