“There were a lot of bright lights around that they wouldn’t be used to in a normal farm setting,” Bentley told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “If they had been older, they probably wouldn’t have scattered as far.”
The Georgia farming community is a close one, Bentley said, and after hearing the news, many wanted to help get the cows to safety.
“They all understand that these animals were scared and at risk,” he said. “A lot of the cowboys were really concerned about the health of the animals.”
Two previous incidents involving cows and Atlanta interstates — one in May and one in June — involved larger cows. On May 19, a tractor-trailer hauling 19 cows overturned on I-75 south before 5 a.m., killing 10 animals. Then on June 8, three cows were killed in a DeKalb County crash.
“All of them have been first thing in the morning so it’s affected the driving commute,” Julie McPeake, Georgia Department of Agriculture spokeswoman, said Monday.
The crash Monday morning involved more animals because they were smaller, Bentley said.
Those hauling livestock must adhere to strict weight rules, according to Bentley, a cattle farmer in Upson County. A livestock trailer, along with all of the animals being towed, must weigh no more than 84,000 pounds, he said.
“It doesn’t matter how many head there are,” Bentley said. “It’s based on their weight.”
The calves likely weighed between 400 and 600 pounds each, McPeake said
The animal rights group PETA issued a statement late Monday saying all crashes involving animals could be avoided if people stopped eating meat.
“PETA is calling for the intrepid cow reportedly still on the loose to be spared the slaughterhouse knife and sent to a sanctuary — as all these gentle animals should have been — and on all humans to keep cows, pigs, and chickens off the roads by keeping them off their plates,” PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said in an emailed statement.
Though Monday’s crash remains under investigation, experts say interstate ramps and construction already pose a challenge for those not traveling daily on metro Atlanta interstates. Also, animals can shift the weight being hauled, making it easier for trailers to tip, Bentley said.
Despite the recent string of crashes, millions of cows are safely moved through Georgia every year, Bentley said.
“It’s very, very rare for there to be any accident involving cattle,” he said.