A herd of more than two dozen cattle escaped from a Veneta, Ore., meat processor and got onto the nearby Highway 126. Three animals were hit by vehicles and killed, and two more had to be put down as a result of the escape, which the plant owner is calling suspicious, reports KMTR News.

The cattle escaped from a pasture belonging to Bartels Packing. Police arriving at the scene found three animals dead and one that was injured and had to be put down. Another injured animal was discovered by the processer's employees and was also put down.

While Oregon State Police 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. Roughly an additional 90 cattle were found out in the business’ parking lot. He says he is taking steps to make sure such an incident does not happen again.

Source: KMTR News