Efforts are underway to euthanase hundreds of sheep maimed when a truck transporting them to an abattoir in south-western Victoria rolled on a winding stretch of highway early today.
Police said the B-double truck, carrying up to 700 sheep, was on the Princes Highway at Stonyford, near Colac, 150 kilometres south-west of Melbourne, when it ran out of control and rolled, spilling its live cargo.
The driver suffered only minor cuts and bruises in the crash but police said many of the sheep were killed in the initial accident.
A police spokesman said 500 sheep were killed or injured. The highway is closed and Department of Primary Industries officers were this morning using a mechanical stunning device to kill the injured animals.
He said the cause of the accident was not clear, but the truck was on a road renowned for its many bends and corners.
Local council rangers were called in to assess the health of the surviving animals. Police said some would have to be put down.
Local CFA captain Terry Place said his crew was called in to handle a diesel spill and found ‘‘a mess’’.
‘‘The truck slid on its side for 80 metres,’’ he said, leaving it extensively damaged.
‘‘There are dead sheep littered along the side of the road and the edge of the road, and there is a fair amount, maybe 400 or 500 live ones the rangers and the trucking company and whoever else are rounding up and putting into local properties.’’
Mr Place said he expected the clean-up to continue throughout the morning.
Vicroads said the Princes Highway had been closed between Colac and Camperdown and drivers could expect medium-to-heavy delays.
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