Thousands of Birds Die After Trailer Crash at Tyson Foods; PETA Seeks Criminal Probe

For Immediate Release:
January 23, 2023

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Wilkesboro, N.C.

Following a recently obtained U.S. Department of Agriculture report revealing that approximately 3,200 chickens died when a trailer crashed at the Tyson Foods slaughterhouse in Wilkesboro, PETA fired off a letter today to District Attorney Tom Horner calling on him to investigate and file applicable criminal charges against those responsible.

According to the reports, on July 1 approximately 4,200 chickens were inside a trailer that overturned in the slaughterhouse’s driveway. Nearly 3,200 birds died, either on impact, from suffocation during the 90 minutes it took workers to right the trailer, from workers flipping cages from the truck with a forklift, or from being crushed underneath cages.

“Thousands of chickens experienced terrifying deaths in a trailer crash and its aftermath, and those who didn’t die immediately were trapped and suffered for up to an hour and a half,” says PETA Vice President Daniel Paden. “PETA is calling for a criminal investigation into the horrific fates of these birds and urges anyone disturbed by this incident to go vegan.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Horner follows.

January 23, 2023

The Honorable Tom Horner

District Attorney

34th Prosecutorial District

Dear Mr. Horner:

I’m writing to request that your office (and a local law-enforcement agency, as you deem appropriate) investigate and file applicable criminal charges against the individuals responsible for killing nearly 3,200 chickens in a trailer crash and its aftermath at the Tyson Foods Inc. slaughterhouse located at 704 Factory St. in Wilkesboro. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incident in the attached report, which the agency just made available to the public.

According to the report, on July 1, 2022, an FSIS inspector “observed a trailer that had overturned … with approximately 4,200 birds in it.” The inspector determined that approximately 3,177 chickens died on impact and that it took Tyson personnel 90 minutes to right the trailer. Birds died slowly of suffocation, while others were killed when Tyson staff were “flipping cages from [the] truck via forklift and … crushing the chickens under the cages.”

This conduct does not represent the otherwise-exempt “activities conducted for the primary purpose of providing food for human … consumption” and thus may violate N.C.G.S. § 14-360. Please note that FSIS’ simple report on the matter carries no criminal or civil penalties and doesn’t preempt criminal liability under state law for cruelty to animals. Thank you for your time and consideration and for the important work that you do.


Daniel Paden

Vice President of Evidence Analysis

Cruelty Investigations Department

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