Spokane County to check cattle trucks on side roads
By MATTHEW WEAVER
Cindy Marshall has observed many Canadian cattle trucks bypassing the scales at the port of entry near her Otis Orchards, Wash., house.
"Sometimes you can sit there and count up to 16 of them within an hour's period," she said.
The trucks head down side roads to get onto Interstate 90, Marshall said, and she has even followed some of them.
"For some reason, they're bypassing the first scale as they come into the state," she said. "My first red flag that goes up is, Why? My biggest issue is the health of these cattle coming down from Canada into our slaughterhouses."
That's a concern shared by rancher Wade King and other cattle producers.
No one verifies whether the animals meet the state's health requirements, the Cattle Producers of Washington president said. If they go through the ports of entry, it would provide one more check in the system.
"Right now, our state veterinarian doesn't know until about two weeks later that the cattle trucks have entered our state," he said.
There are also concerns that the trucks are entering Washington from Canada through Idaho without being checked at Washington's borders.
"There's no weight (checks) on these trucks coming in and we know these trucks are overloaded," King said. "They're driving around every scale they can to get to their destination, wherever that may be."
The trucks can legally haul more weight in Canada than they can in Washington, King said.
King said some perpetrators have placed harassing phone calls to him and other CPOW members.
"They don't want any interruption of these cheap, imported cattle," he said.
There is also a concern that Washington's producers are incorrectly being blamed by the public for the damage the trucks cause to the roads.
The Spokane County Sheriff's Office will emphasize enforcement of trucking regulations and trucks bypassing the scales at ports of entry.
"We're going to be looking for weight violations," Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said. "The only reason I can think anybody would want to bypass the port of entry and scales could be weight restrictions."
Knezovich said he's received many complaints from neighborhoods about trucks on county roads, particularly cattle trucks.
"Our county roads are not designed to handle that type of weight on a consistent basis," he said. "Interstate 90 is. There's no reason for cattle trucks to bypass I-90."