A U.S. Forest Service team has learned the agency will have to dispose of considerably more than six cow carcasses discovered last month in a cabin near Conundrum Hot Springs, Colorado.
A team from the agency hiked and skied the eight miles to the hot springs southwest of Aspen on Friday and discovered additional carcasses buried in the snow outside the cabin, according to Bill Kight, a spokesman for the White River National Forest.
“We’ve got quite a few carcasses,” Kight said. “It’s more than six, but I can’t give you a number yet.”
The cattle wandered off a grazing allotment in the adjacent Gunnison National Forest in late fall and died of exposure at some point in the winter. A total of 29 cattle were reported missing by a rancher, according to the Forest Service. It’s unknown how many met their fate at Conundrum.
The Forest Service team took from the cabin samples of plaster, which will be tested for asbestos, Kight said. The results will determine if the cabin can be burned and how the materials are handled.
The team also took water samples from Conundrum Hot Springs to see if the water is contaminated by dead cattle. Some of the carcasses are within a couple of dozen feet of the hot springs, Kight said.