PLEASANT VIEW -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is not pleased with the way officers from Weber County, Box Elder County and the Utah Highway Patrol shot and killed two cows Monday night.
Police put down the cows after determining the animals were holding up traffic on the freeway and were a safety hazard.
Officers responded to calls of cattle running in and out of traffic on the northbound side of Interstate 15 near the Weber-Box Elder county line Monday night.
Traffic was temporarily diverted at 2700 North for about 45 minutes while officers tried herding the cows back across a fence and away from the freeway.
"It poses a huge safety hazard," said UHP Sgt. Brad Horne. "Whenever a car hits a cow or a horse, it's a severe accident, potentially lethal."
Horne said the officers went to great lengths to move the cows away from the road as quickly as possible. However, the cattle kept running from the officers and back toward the median area, apparently attracted by the grass growing there.
The officers determined they had to shoot the animals and haul them away manually.
An official from PETA said the group is concerned with the manner in which the police dealt with the animals.
"We wish that more time had been given to moving the cows," said PETA spokeswoman Stephanie Bell. "An expert should have been brought in to help move them."
Bell said whenever a rancher's cattle wanders onto the road or falls off a livestock truck, officials typically do not shoot the animals but take the time to make sure they're safely removed.
However, Horne said this was not a rural area and it was urgent that the cows be removed from the high-traffic area.
"They tried everything they could possibly do with resources at their disposal," Horne said of responding officers. "In the end, we just couldn't take a chance."
The cows had, in fact, caused a secondary accident after traffic slowed and a vehicle was rear-ended, he said.
Bell said she understood the urgency to get traffic going again, especially if an ambulance or fire engine were being held up, but it shouldn't have meant taking the lives of the cattle.
"Appointments can wait. More time should have been taken," she said.
Horne said in the case of the animals getting loose from the property, the owner is liable for any civil damages, pending a full investigation. It is still unclear who owned the cows.
Bell also said the owner is to blame.
Contact reporter Andreas Rivera at 801-625-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @AndreasCRivera.