Merced County Sheriff Airlifts Hay to Stranded Cattle


Photo Credit: Getty Images

Call this the Central California airlift - a Merced County sheriff used his county's helicopter to drop two tons of hay on a river island where 30 cows have been stranded since January. 

Sheriff Vern Warnke worked with the Merced County Office of Emergency Services to help drop the hay for the starving cows on an island they're trapped on thanks to flooding from the Merced River. The cows have been stranded since January after a series of storms pummeled the northern half of the state. 

The rancher who owns the cows kept an eye on his herd while they were stranded, hoping the water would recede so they could escape, but so far, the river has not been cooperative and the water remains too deep, too fast and too cold for the cows to escape the island.

The cows have since eaten all the grass on the island with some losing up to 300 pounds per animal. 

Sheriff Vern Warnke told the Fresno Bee that he wasn't about to stand by and watch those animals die. 

“These ranchers were in dire straights to try and get these animals fed. I’m a huge animal lover, so I’m not going to let any animal go hungry.”

Warnke sprung into action according to the newspaper as he began working with local ranchers and the county's emergency services to get food to the cattle which are used for breeding purposes. After working with the Office of Emergency Services to may the island's location, sheriff's officials used the department's helicopter for a very special food delivery for the stranded bovine. (Think they used Doordash?). 

Officials are planning to drop an additional 1,100 pounds of hay for the cows to make sure they won't go hungry during the spring thaw. 

The river running through Yosemite National Park briefly flooded its banks as a heat wave melts the record snowpack in the Sierra Nevada. 

The National Weather Service says the Merced River will reach flood stage for the second-straight night in a row under the park's iconic Pohono Bridge. Fortunately, a cooldown in temperatures through the weekend should slow the melt and ease the flooding. 

The park is reporting some soggy campgrounds, but little damage. 


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