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Animal rights advocates want to erect a roadside memorial sign for hundreds of turkeys that died last week when the truck carrying them crashed into Deer Creek Reservoir.
The group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has modeled a sign after templates from the state's official Memorial Safety Sign Program to place at the reservoir in honor of "the hundreds of terrified turkeys who died here in a truck crash," according to a draft submitted Wednesday to the Utah Department of Transportation.
"The memorial will cut down on future accidents and make the roads safer for everyone by reminding tractor-trailer drivers of their responsibility to the thousands of animals they haul every year," PETA campaigner and Salt Lake City resident Amy Meyer wrote in a request to UDOT. "It will also let commuters know that the best way to prevent these tragedies is to go vegan, sparing turkeys from spending their entire short lives mired in waste on factory farms and then being crammed into trucks for a terrifying trip to the slaughterhouse."
The drafted sign urges viewers to "try vegan" and displays an image of a turkey. The tribute is placed below a sign reminding drivers to "drive safely; buckle up." UDOT spokesman Adan Carrillo said he had not seen PETA's request or the drafted sign, but said it "is certainly something we'd be willing to look at and see if we can help" if it conforms to state policies and guidelines.
About 700 turkeys were on board a semitrailer truck that went over a guardrail on U.S. Highway 189 on Thursday morning. Many of the turkeys died; some escaped their crates and made their way to shore, and others were trapped but alive in the water.
"Our hope is that consumers will see memorial and empathize with these beings who feel pain just like we do, and hopefully get the message to try going vegan to spare hundreds of animals every year from a horrific death at the slaughterhouse," said Laura Cascada, senior campaign coordinator for PETA.
If the sign is approved, Utah would become the first state to expressly authorize a PETA roadside memorial for livestock killed in transit. Similar requests were denied for crash sites in Georgia, Illinois and Virginia, Cascada said. The only PETA-sponsored memorial stands at the scene of a 2013 crash involving a cattle transport near Madison, Wis., where no policy restricts or permits such monuments.
PETA also has requests pending to place tombstone-style markers for turkeys that died in a crash in Iowa and cows that died in a crash in Albany, N.Y.