A group of cows frozen solid in a Rocky Mountains cabin may be blown up by the U.S. Forest Service.
The cows are in the Conundrum Creek Cabin in the White River National Forest about nine miles from Aspen, Colorado and 11,200 feet up. Two Air Force Cadets discovered them in late March when they snow-shoed up.
It’s believed they got in during a snow storm and couldn’t figure out how to get back out again. There are thought to be six inside and a couple more outside.
Cows are allowed to wander onto federal wilderness lands, as long as ranchers get a permit from the Forest Service. The Forest Service said it is still trying to locate the rancher who lost the cows and it was not known if the rancher had a permit.
U.S. Forest Service spokesman Steve Segin said that “time is of the essence because we don’t want them defrosting” due to possible water contamination in the nearby hot springs. There’s also the issue of bears coming out of hibernation.
Using explosives may be the easiest option, and one they have used before on “dead horses, elk and other animals in areas where it’s impossible to get them out.” This breaks up carcasses so scavengers can pick off everything quickly.
Helicopters are too expensive and they don’t want to use trucks in a wilderness area. Burning the cabin may also be an option, but before doing anything, rangers are checking the cabin for asbestos.
Scott Snelson, district ranger for the Aspen-Sopris District at the White River National Forest, discussed the media interest in the story with NPR, saying:
“It is pretty juicy story. Conundrum Creek, cows in a cabin; explosives, potentially a big barbecue. Yeah, I can see why people are interested.”
Image of Conundrum Creek Cabin, courtesy U.S. Forest Service