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In Colorado, Frozen Cows Are A Conundrum In Conundrum

The Conundrum Creek Cabin where the cows met their unfortunate end. Photo taken on April 6.
Brian Porter
The Conundrum Creek Cabin where the cows met their unfortunate end. Photo taken on April 6.

Officials from the U.S. Forest Service say they aren't yet sure what to do about six cows who apparently got trapped and died inside a cabin at Conundrum Hot Springs in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness area south of Aspen.

It is, you might say, the conundrum in Conundrum.

According to theAspen Daily News:

"Blowing the animals up with explosives, burning the cabin or leaving them are all being considered. The area is off-limits to motorized use so trucks and chain saws aren't options. Neither is a helicopter, which is too expensive, according to Forest Service officials. The area is still difficult to access and horses wouldn't be able to negotiate the steep descent, according to officials."

But officials do want to get the carcasses out of there before they defrost, so that bears and other creatures aren't attracted to the spot — which is in a popular area for hiking. There's also concern about contamination of the water supply in the area and below. The cabin is about 11,000 feet above sea level.

FoxNews21 says the cows were discovered by two Air Force Academy cadets who were hoping to stay in the cabin. They chose to move on instead.

It's thought that the cows were part "of a herd of 29 cattle that went missing last fall from the nearby Gunnison National Forest," the Daily News adds.

Update at 2:55 p.m. ET. What Should They Do?

Burn the cabin? Blow it up? Let the bears have a feast and just keep people away for a few weeks or months?

Suggestions are welcome in the comments thread. If there are enough interesting ones, we might fire up a quick question and have everyone choose their favorite.

Update at 6:39 p.m. ET. 'We Still Haven't Learned Our Lesson':

We just finished reading the comments and here are a few standouts:

Common Sense (Logicalone) wrote:

It is federal wilderness the correct thing to do is...NOTHING.

Darren Wilson (DDW) wrote:

Attn: U.S Forest Service. Horses can't make the hike but llama can. By way of example: Llama are used to hike supplies up to Mt. LaConte in the Smoky Mtns. where they are better able to handle the ascent/descent on rocky narrow trails.

Chainsaw the carcasses, wrap them in bags, but them on the llama, distribute pieces willy-nilly on the hike back down. And for pete's sake, don't dismember the carcasses inside or near the cabin where the blood and odor will linger for quite some time. Just sayin'

John Wheat (jwheat) wrote:

Well I guess they will just have to use hand saws then.

And, perhaps our favorite, came from our friend Johnny Truant who points out that blowing up carcasses hasn't turned out well in the past. Johnny dug up this unintentionally hilarious news footage on YouTube:

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.