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21 cows killed by lightning strike in McCook County

(KSFY)
Published: May. 27, 2016 at 10:48 AM CDT
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The Moody County Sheriff's Office shared a picture taken in McCook County Thursday of 21 cows killed by a lightning strike.

21 cows were using the metal bale feeder Wednesday when it was struck by lightning, killing them all.

That amount to $45,000 worth of loss for the owner who resides in McCook County.

The Facebook post has more than 100,000 shares and climbing as of Friday afternoon -- something Moody County Sheriff Troy Wellman told KSFY he did not expect.

Sheriff Wellman wants to remind people that as the severe weather starts to roll in this summer, to keep what happened to these cattle in mind. He added if you start to see lightning and hear thunder, you need to get out of the open.

KSFY spoke to the McCook County Emergency Management Director Brad Stiefvater. He says in his 39 years on the job, he's never seen anything like this and that this is a very rare occurrence.

Stiefvater said he talked to farmers in the area and said they've only heard of two or three ever being struck by lightning at a time, never this many. He said this a good reminder about the power of lightning.

"My first reaction is certainly unfortunate for the owner. I mean that's a significant death loss," said Dr. Larry Goelz, veterinarian and rancher from Pipestone, Minnesota.

Dr. Goelz is around animals and cattle everyday. In his clinic, he's seen the aftermath of lightning-struck cattle but only when one has been involved.

"Extremely rare -- I've never heard of an instance with 21 head. And it was unique; they were all eating at the metal feeder," said Dr. Goelz.

Dr. Goelz hopes it opens the eyes of people everywhere to show that no one is immune to lightning and the threat is very real.

"Anything we can do to protect ourselves and our animals from it, we should do -- certainly not at the risk of the owner. We gotta protect the people first and animals second. And I think that's a great takeaway message," said Dr. Goelz.

With the weather being very unpredictable in our region, Dr. Goelz says weather radios are vital for everyone.

We also spoke with the person who snapped the photograph; they wish to remain anonymous. The rancher also wishes to remain anonymous and says he is moving on.