VENETA, Ore. (KMTR) -- Five cows are dead and three vehicles are significantly damaged after a herd escaped from a local meat processor and got on to Highway 126 early Saturday morning, an incident that the owner believes is suspicious.
The crashes happened around on Highway 126W near the intersection of Central Road. Three different cars were involved, but none of the drivers or passengers of the cars were injured.
Oregon State Police say around two dozen cattle escaped from a nearby pasture belonging to Bartels Packing, a meat processing business on Central Road.
Troopers have reported that three cattle were discovered dead at the scene and one had to be put down by a trooper.
Bartels Packing reports that one other cow was discovered injured after the incident and had to be put down by company employees, bringing the total to 5.
While OSP Troopers suspect wind may have opened a gate at the Bartels Packing facility, the company’s owner Chris Bartels believes there may be more to it.
Bartels told NewsSource 16 on Saturday that since 1962, only one cow, a bull, has escaped from the company’s pasture and walked on to Highway 126. He says that many times, cattle will not cross the railroad tracks by themselves.
The cattle that escaped Saturday morning were raised in Eastern Washington. Bartels say out there, railroad tracks serve as cattle guards with fences alongside them which cattle will not attempt to cross on their own.
Bartels says that someone may have opened the gate and herded the cattle out on to the highway. Bartels says an roughly an additional 90 cattle were found out in the business’ found parking lot.
It wouldn’t be the first time someone has broke in to the company’s facility. In May 2011, someone broke in to the company’s building, stole a car, then crashed into a neighboring Veneta Dari Mart business.
(Read NewsSource 16's original story here at the following link: http://www.kmtr.com/news/local/story/Veneta-burglary-spree/ilSwkoVuVkG2lm470Xy27g.cspx)
Bartels says he is planning to make changes at his business to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
Saturday night, troopers spent about an hour using their cars to herd the animals back in to their pen.