Hundreds of sheep were killed or severely injured and team work by those on the scene ensured the surviving sheep were managed quickly and as humanely as possible.

On 18 January, the triple deck livestock transporter rolled on a bend on the Coolgardie-Esperance Highway on route to South Australia with 760 sheep on board. The two drivers, who thankfully weren’t injured, immediately reported the accident to the police who contacted the Coolgardie shire for assistance to manage the sheep. The RSPCA WA Goldfields based inspector received a request for urgent help from rangers due to the large number of animals involved. 

Our inspector immediately drove to the site of the accident, stopping to pick up a firearm owner with experience in euthanising livestock. They arrived at the remote location around two hours after the incident to find hundreds of sheep on the road, many badly injured, some with missing limbs. Others were trapped inside the truck, mainly on the lower decks. The trapped animals had sustained serious injuries. Police, the local shire rangers and a tow truck driver were already at the scene and workers from a nearby station soon arrived to help.

“Our first task was to identify the animals most severely injured and end their suffering,” said our inspector. “We all worked together with the truck drivers who were very astute locating and marking the sheep most in need of being euthanised, whether they were still on the truck or on the road.

“While this process was taking place, the station workers helped round up sheep that weren’t injured. We got them into a sheep yard and were able to assess any injuries.

“The euthanising of the badly injured sheep was very methodical and we worked as quickly as possible.

“We had also alerted the inspectors at DPIRD’s Livestock Compliance Unit and they soon arrived and there was a big team effort going on for quite some time.”

Two days later, around 350 of the sheep were able to travel after being assessed as fit to load by the LCU and they were taken to a nearby station. Around 400 sheep died or were put down and a few escapees are yet to be located.

After dealing with so many badly injured animals, our inspector said: “I’d like to never have to see anything like that again, but if there is another such incident, I’d like to be there to help get the best possible outcome for all the animals.”

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