RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — A fund set up to help South Dakota ranchers in the wake of an early October blizzard that killed tens of thousands of animals has surpassed $4 million.

The Rancher Relief Fund has received money from more than 5,000 donors in all 50 states. It recently got a boost of more than half a million dollars when Sturgis-based First Interstate Bank bought 33 calves that were then sold at auction barns in the Dakotas, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska and Texas.

The relief fund now totals more than $4.2 million. South Dakota Stockgrowers Association Executive Director Silvia Christen says she never dreamed the fund would raise so much money.

More than 500 ranchers applied for aid by the Dec. 31 deadline. Christen says more than $800,000 has been distributed so far.

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