The first casualty of cattle grazing on Beaver Creek Park happened Monday evening, the Hill County Sheriff confirmed this morning.
Sheriff Don Brostrom said a vehicle hit a cow on the park and apparently drove off without reporting it.
The Montana Highway Patrol collected evidence at the scene and is investigating the incident, he added.
The call came in at 8:43 p.m., with the caller reporting that a cow with four broken legs was on the highway just north of the Sucker Creek turnoff, south of Bear Paw Lake.
The park leases grazing to area ranchers from the day after Labor Day to Dec. 31. It is the single largest source of funds for the operation of the park.
Actions have been taken to reduce the dangers of car-cow crashes, with some success. The park superintendent said in a recent interview that only two crashes involving cattle occurred last year, resulting in the deaths of three animals.
Brostrom said people need to be aware of the animals on the park and recommended that they drive slower than the posted speed limit — a nighttime limit of 35 mph is in effect through the grazing season — and keep their eyes out for the animals.
“It’s something (drivers are) going to see for the next few months so they need to slow down, he said, adding, “Especially with winter coming on, the roads will be treacherous.”