"Ravaged By Fires, Western Ranchers Face 'Scary' Summer"

"It took less than an hour last month for a Montana wildfire to reduce Scott McRae's ranch to thousands of blackened acres devoid of the grasses that were to sustain hundreds of cattle."

"'That is 500 mouths to feed with nothing to eat in sight,' said McRae, 53, co-owner of a family ranch founded in the 1880s in southeastern Montana.

McRae is among scores of ranchers across the U.S. West whose grazing lands have been charred by blazes or ravaged by drought amid a regional shortfall of the alfalfa hay that could stave off starvation.

With drought affecting more than half the continental United States and less than a quarter of the nation's pasture and range rated good to excellent, cattle producers from Montana to Nevada are bracing for a rough season."

Laura Zuckerman reports for Reuters July 16, 2012.

SEE ALSO:

"Western Wildfires 2012: Feds Spend Millions On Immediate Post-Fire Effects" (AP)
 

Source: Reuters, 07/16/2012