Calling the past month “devastating” for many Canadian farmers, Marika Kraha, leader of the dairy and beef farming business of Feline Cow Sanctuary in Manitoba, encouraged farmers in the worst-hit areas to share pictures of their animals on social media so others can help.
Kraha said that in the northern part of the province – directly adjacent to the U.S. – floods that have swept through the area of the province have left hundreds of cattle stranded, with some of those cattle nearly covered in water up to their knees.
Kraha, who said that she and her husband cover five of Manitoba’s 48 municipalities – Shelbourne, St. Boniface, Cassiar, Kemptville and Selkirk – said on Facebook Friday that many farmers are not yet aware that their cattle are either getting a bath or mud baths, soaked with just a small amount of poop, if they are still alive.
“Fortunately, a lot of farmers have updated me on their waters rescue operations and many of them have posted images to Facebook,” Kraha said. “Please know that I’m seeing a lot of pictures and thus my feed bills have skyrocketed in recent days, as you would expect.”
Lately, there has been a significant amount of rain in Manitoba – 36 millimeters (1.5 inches) in one day alone, according to Environment Canada.
With floodwaters from Canada’s prairies and the Manitoba River rising again after weeks of no rain, Wab Kinew, national director of the environmental advocacy group Waterkeepers Canada, says there’s only so much infrastructure can handle.
“Where we do live in Canada,” Kinew said, “we’re surrounded by water. Our bodies of water, we really don’t have any experience with them except in winter.”
Kinew said that as the waterways are extremely concentrated in Manitoba – including the Red and Assiniboine rivers and Lake Winnipeg – the impact on downstream communities is significant.
“Winnipeg is the fourth-largest urban area in the country and it’s one of the most densely populated cities in the country,” Kinew said. “You are talking about, when the river floods, it could take anywhere from a week to two months to find all the businesses that are dislocated.”
The land surrounding Winnipeg is home to two million people, many of whom are expected to lose crops and other crops. Further downstream, Kinew said, the vulnerability increases because of the encroaching Red River.
Kevin Orlowski, the executive director of Waterways Winnipeg, said residents affected by the flood aren’t just torn between fields or homes, but rather an entire ecosystem that is now in jeopardy.
“This has ramifications that extend beyond just the humans impacted themselves,” Orlowski said. “This affects the fish, the wildlife and, of course, the ecosystems and the flora and fauna.”
Kinew said he has heard from residents who say they had to make the difficult decision to simply go and find shelter and meals. That’s where Feline Cow Sanctuary comes in, his team has said.
“I have been told through the course of my travels that saving animals is the most basic thing,” Kinew said. “We don’t have to rescue every animal, but every animal that we can.”