A total of 44 cows died late Thursday night after most were struck by five commercial trucks along Highway 97 about 14 miles north of Madras, Oregon State Police reported.
Troopers investigating the collision said Friday that no drivers were injured.
According to OSP Senior Trooper Clint Prevett, around 11:45 p.m. Thursday, a large group of cattle belonging to the R2 Ranch were on a stretch of Highway 97 near milepost 77 when nearly all were struck by five trucks traveling through the area.
Two of the trucks were damaged and had to be towed from the scene, while three others had minor damage and were drivable.
Most of the cattle were dead at the scene and any remaining injured cattle were put down by their owner.
OSP and ODOT employees worked with R2 Ranch to remove the dead cattle from the highway. The highway was partially closed in both directions for several hours.
This stretch of Highway 97 is open range, where livestock may be lawfully permitted to run at large.
Troopers said it appears the cattle breached a fence accessing the highway. Oregon law (ORS Chapter 607) defines livestock districts and open range. More information about livestock districts and open range is available at http://www.oregon.gov/ODA/AHID/livestock_id/openclosed_range.shtml.
OSP and ODOT would like to remind all drivers of the possible dangers associated with animals on or near our highways. The following driving tips are offered as it relates to animal encounters on or near the highway:
* Be attentive at all times, especially sunset to sunrise for any potential hazard on or near the highway.
* When driving in areas that have special signs indicating the possible presence of animals/wildlife use extra caution because these signs are posted for a reason.
* Remember that the presence of any type of animal/wildlife could also mean that others are nearby.
* When you see an animal/wildlife near or on the roadway, reduce your speed and following distance and try to stay in your lane. Many serious crashes are the result of drivers swerving to avoid wildlife or other obstacles and they crash into another vehicle or lose control of their own vehicle.
* When driving any vehicle, always wear your safety belt because a collision could result in serious injuries.