SHIPROCK – Ranchers in northwestern New Mexico suspect toxic plants, used in Navajo and Hopi religious ceremonies, are responsible for the recent deaths of more than a dozen cows.
At least 15 cows from different herds in the Shiprock area have died of a mysterious illness in the past three weeks, The Gallup Independent reports. And ranchers say the purple plant known as the tall mountain larkspur is the likely cause.
The plant, found in New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, is growing in abundance on the range thanks to unusually wet weather. It is used as after-birth wash.
Navajo botanist and geologist Arnold Clifford said the plant is toxic to cows because of its high concentrations of alkaloid.