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Cows killed in morning crash in Berkeley County

November 28, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Four cows died early Monday after a dump truck struck the bovines on U.S. 11 near Bedington Crossroads, West Virginia State Police and Division of Highways officials said.

Truck driver Daniel Riner, 28, of Shippensburg, Pa., wasn't injured in the 6 a.m. collision, State Police Sgt. G.S. Petsko said.

One of the cows was "put down" after it was seriously injured from the predawn collision, according to Mark Baker, the West Virginia Division of Highways assistant superintendent for road maintenance in Berkeley County.

DOH crews assisted cattle owner Samuel Sheets of Martinsburg with removing the carcasses from the road to the farmer's property nearby, officials said.

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"If we would have gotten them, we would have composted them," said Baker, referring to the agency's routine procedure for disposing of deer and other roadkill found along state roads in the county.

On Wednesday of last week alone, DOH maintenance crews in Berkeley County picked up 14 deer carcasses, Baker said. Two of them were bucks with only their antlers removed, he said.

Another 18 dead deer were due to be removed as of 8 a.m. Monday, but Baker said the workload usually slows down in the second week of firearms hunting season.

In 2005, DOH personnel picked up 13,309 deer along state maintained roads, according to Susan Watkins, director of communications for the West Virginia Department of Transportation. Through Oct. 31 of this year, state workers had removed 12,484, she said. DOH crews in Jefferson County have removed 170 carcasses so far this month and the tally in Morgan County surpassed 50 Monday, officials said.

Watkins wasn't able to immediately say how much money the state has spent to remove the carcasses.

Though most of the dead deer have collided with vehicles, Baker estimated as many as 25 percent of the carcasses are discarded by "bad hunters."

"The meat could have been used by the homeless shelter," Baker said of the two bucks that had their antlers removed.

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Section coordinates and publicizes the Hunters Helping the Hungry program as a vehicle for sportsmen to donate legally harvested venison.

But there are no participating meat processors in the tri-county area for local hunters to donate the deer, according to a DNR pamphlet about the 2006 program. The nearest processor is Country Seasons Flying W Farms in Burlington, W.Va., in Mineral County.

Individuals who still wish to make a tax-deductible monetary donation to the Hunters Helping the Hungry program should write a check in care of Hunters Helping the Hungry and mail it to: WVDNR Wildlife Resources Section, State Capitol Complex, Building 3, Room 812, Charleston, WV 2530.

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