Heat, drought lead to cancellation of downtown Steamboat cattle drive

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— The cattle drive scheduled to take place Sunday morning in downtown Steamboat Springs has been called off out of concern for the well-being of the cattle, which would have been rounded up and trucked in high heat from Wyoming’s Little Snake Valley.

One of the cattle drive’s organizers said Friday that when they balanced common sense with the fun nature of the event and the value of the animals, they were led to what was a difficult decision.

“All of us who have been working on the event for several months are very disappointed,” Dean Vogelaar wrote in a prepared statement. “The combination of the distance of shipping the cattle into Steamboat and driving the cattle in the heat led us to the decision to cancel this year. The impact to the animals is most important, and we can’t expect the owner of the cattle to take this risk.”

Vogelaar told the Steamboat Today that the ranch rodeo scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday still is a go, but he was making last-minute arrangements to use some of the roping steers from the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series and some cattle pastures closer to town for the event. Because the ranch rodeo involves a smaller number of cattle and animals that are not necessarily as predictable as the cow/calf pairs that would have been used for the cattle drive, they would not have made suitable replacements for the drive, he said.

Vogelaar said a variety of challenges already being faced by livestock producers in the region played into the decision to cancel the cattle drive, which was being revived for the first time since 2009.

The good news is that cattle prices are strong right now. But that means that any weight loss caused by the stress from rounding them up and trucking them would be costly.

Trucking the animals to the Steamboat rodeo grounds in the middle of the night to avoid the heat would have been problematic, Vogelaar said. And there also was the real possibility that some of the animals could have died if they were gathered, loaded and trucked during the heat of the day.

“We are very appreciative of the efforts of the city of Steamboat, the Chamber and individuals and businesses who have stepped up to help keep the event alive,” Vogelaar wrote. “The cattle drive represents an important part of our Western heritage. We will keep looking at trying to hold the drive in the future based on the availability of livestock and other circumstances.”

The cattle drive was resurrected this year after a fundraising effort to produce $3,000 to cover the event’s insurance premiums.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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