BATON ROUGE, La. – Finding cattle is one of the concerns along the flooded Louisiana coastline.
The Army is using Blackhawk helicopters (search) to search for thousands of cattle feared stranded in the high water left behind by Hurricane Rita. A spokesman for the Louisiana Cattlemen's Association says since all the coastal parishes had cattle, the number in trouble could be more than 30,000.
Scores of cattle have been seen swimming in the brown floodwaters.
Military officials say they may use satellite positioning systems to help spot surviving animals.
There are reports that more than 4,000 cattle may have been killed in Cameron Parish (search) alone, where ranchers on horseback struggled to herd the animals into corrals attached to pickup trucks in the aftermath of Hurricane Rita (search).
"Take all the coastal parishes, they all had cattle," said Bob Felknor, spokesman for the Louisiana Cattlemen's Association. "It could be more than 30,000 in trouble."
The storm flattened towns and swamped fields in Cameron and Vermilion parishes (search), just east of the Texas line. Scores of cattle were seen swimming in the brown floodwaters.
"The big thing now is the focus on keeping the cattle alive," said Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, commander of the military task force in charge in Louisiana.
Authorities were also trying to clear roads to tiny Pecan Island to rescue roughly 5,000 cattle there, said Robert LeBlanc, director of the Vermilion Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness. He said helicopters may be called in.
"These people's livelihood depends on this," LeBlanc said of the parish's approximately 500 livestock farmers.
Louisiana had some 860,000 head of cattle as of Jan. 1. With most of coastal Louisiana's residents out of harm's way, officials turned some of their attention to trying to save cattle. Roughly a third of the state's cattle are raised in coastal areas now under water.
Any high ground — levees, highways, even parking lots — was being used to hold the thousands of rescued cattle, Felknor said.
Hay to feed the animals was being brought down from central and northern parts of the state, as well as from Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska.
"The problem we're having is transportation," Felknor said. "We have to get more trucks."