A freight train charging through Montana at 60 miles-per-hour smashed into a herd of elk on Wednesday, killing 23 animals.
Officials said the animals could not be salvaged for human consumption. No one on the train was reported injured.
“Pretty much when a 60 mile-per-hour train hits an elk, they explode on impact and there’s not much left,” Sgt. Dave Loewen, a game warden with Fish and Wildlife, told the Independent Record. “It’s pretty devastating.”
Loewen said accidents involving vehicles and animals are not uncommon, but the sheer number of animal deaths during the incident east of Helena was notable.
“There’s a lot of the snow in the area and so what happens is the elk will be crossing from one side of the tracks to the other,” Loewen told Montana Public Radio. “When they get up on the tracks they kind of take a break because there’s little snow up there.”
He added: “It’s a hazard for vehicles, it’s a hazard for trains. Unfortunately, it’s just a product of the environment we live in.”