Removal of 31 deceased cattle in Okanagan Lake getting underway

Click to play video: '31 cattle dead after falling through ice on Okanagan Lake'
31 cattle dead after falling through ice on Okanagan Lake
BC's Ministry of Environment is conducting a search for over two-dozen cattle that drown in the North end of Okanagan Lake, after falling through ice sometime over Christmas. Right now, the main concern for the ministry is ensuring the water quality of the lake is not impacted. Jayden Wasney reports. – Jan 2, 2023

As temperatures in the Southern Interior changed from frozen to mild in a matter of days, the Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) says 31 cattle wandered onto Okanagan Lake, broke through the thinning ice and drowned.

BC’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy is now in the process of coming up with a plan to remove the deceased livestock that has remained underwater for roughly a week. At this time, their top priority is to ensure the water quality of the lake is not affected.

In a statement, the ministry says it is “working quickly to ensure the removal of the deceased animals.”

“An environmental emergency response officer is on-site and working closely with the Okanagan Indian Band and local authorities to support the development of a response action plan.”

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Despite water quality being top of mind, the safety of the ministry’s responders is also crucial.

“The response actions are challenged by the site conditions, including lake access, ice, and cold water,” the statement reads.

After talking with several residents in the area, one local rancher says he’s frustrated about some of the negative online backlash the OKIB, and more specifically, the owner of the deceased livestock, has received.

He added that the loss of cattle has cost the owner over $100,000 and that members of the community are doing everything they can to support the family. Global News reached out to the OKIB for further comment but did not receive a response.

Typically, the water quality of Okanagan Lake is tested twice a year, but the regional district will be conducting additional testing following the removal of the cattle.

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