POLICE are investigating the circumstances that led to a herd of cattle walking into the path of motorists on the Hume Freeway on Sunday night.
About 8.30pm the cattle wandered onto the highway, two kilometres south of the Glenrowan McDonald’s.
Six animals died — four were hit by cars and two by trucks.
Another two had to be put down.
Police said most of the cattle were herded into two nearby paddocks and five police units were at the scene until 1.30am.
Wangaratta police said those who allowed stock to wander could be fined, but it was also possible the cattle had been let loose by another person.
Wangaratta police Sgt Michael Savage said it was not uncommon for stock to be on the road.
“People need to ensure their gates are locked and fences are secured,” he said.
“The farmer is not overly happy but we are just trying to work out whether a gate had been left open or not.
“The owner of the cattle is assisting police but this is a no-win situation.”
The four cars involved in collisions with the cattle were towed and all but one had been written off.
Solimo Towing manager Adam Solimo said a Lexus, Subaru Forester and Mitsubishi Triton were damaged beyond repair and a brand new LandCruiser was the only vehicle that would be salvaged.
“We were quite surprised by what happened,” Mr Solimo said.
“We just could not believe it.”
Mr Solimo said the front and bonnets of the vehicles had been damaged and the front wheels had been pushed in.
“There was carnage everywhere and it was pretty horrifying seeing dead cows all over the road,” he said.
VicRoads North Eastern regional director Bryan Sherritt said VicRoads field staff attended the scene on Sunday night and used a bobcat to remove the carcasses from the road.
They returned yesterday morning to clear the remains of the livestock from the road reserves.
“It’s a timely reminder for motorists to remain vigilant while driving on regional and rural roads,” Mr Sherritt said.
“Importantly, it is the responsibility of landowners to ensure fencing is adequate to contain stock, as outlined in The Road Management Act 2004.”
He said there had been 114 serious crashes between 2009 and last year involving animals and livestock.