Approximately 25 dead cows discovered in the Yampa River at Dinosaur National Monument on April 1 are still there.
But state health officials want them out.
Scott Klarich, enforcement team leader with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment; Water Quality Control Division, wrote a letter to Mantle Ranch Inc. on April 15 requesting that the Mantle Ranch "immediately undertake efforts to remove these carcasses from the Yampa River and arrange for their proper disposal."
Klarich said the department is asking the Mantles to remove the cattle because it believes the majority of them belong to the Mantles.
"Based on brands and ear tags identified by monument representatives we believe the majority of them belong to the Mantles," he said. "I can't say for sure how many but the general thought is these animals in the river belong to the Mantles."
The department of health wants the cattle removed for water quality reasons, Klarich said.
"We definitely see the potential of this having an impact on water quality in that area," he said.
The letter sent to Mantle Ranch April 15 asked the ranching company to provide a written schedule of how it planned to remove the cattle carcasses from the Yampa River and a brief description of how it planned to dispose of them.
The letter asked that the Mantle Ranch respond within 48 hours but
Klarich said the department has not yet received a response from the Mantles.
"If they don't respond we will escalate our authority to get the issue of these dead cows addressed," he said.
"It's not yet clear what authority will have to require them to do something about this."
Dinosaur National Monument officials were first informed of the dead cows in the river on April 1.
Monument officials said the carcasses were bloated and found at different locations along the river for 10 miles.
One theory regarding how the cows died, officials said,
is that the cattle fell through
the ice this winter and drowned.
At that time Lonnie Mantle said he thought all the Mantle cattle was accounted for, and did not think any of the cows belonged to them.
The Mantles could not be reached for comment about the recent letter from the Department of Health.