VEGAN activists clashed with police and firefighters when they tried to free a truck load of turkeys after a road crash.
They converged on an overturned lorry and started freeing the Christmas turkeys as rescue workers did their job.
The lorry carrying 640 live Christmas turkeys overturned on a roundabout near a busy junction in the UK.
Several of the birds escaped and were spotted by stunned motorists making a break for freedom.
Animal rights campaigners raced to the scene and confronted rescue workers as they were pulling surviving birds from the wreckage, urging them to let them go.
Officers asked protesters to keep away from the crash site for their own safety but they refused to move, claiming many of the animals would be deemed unfit for eating and “have their throats cut”.
The truck crashed and shed its load on the A38 in Wychbold, Worcester, at around 10am in the morning in heavy traffic.
No one was hurt in the crash other than several turkeys.
Distressing footage showed blood-soaked hutches lying on the ground strewn with feathers, as activists pleaded unsuccessfully to be allowed to take the injured birds away to give them a “safe home”.
The surviving animals were later returned to the farmer who owns them but one bird was taken to a sanctuary after a protester shielded it with her body and refused to hand it over to police.
Video filmed by vegan campaigner “Earthling Ed” was broadcast live on Facebook.
It showed him arguing with firefighters and police officers who asked him to stand back so they could do their jobs but he insisted he had every legal right to be there.
He asked the incident commander how he could “morale justify” taking the birds away to be “killed needlessly” – claiming injured turkeys cannot be slaughtered for food.
The firefighter said: “I’m responsible for the health and safety of everyone on this site, ok?”
“If I can’t guarantee the safety I’ve got to stop the operation.”
The protester pleaded with him to let him take some of the animals so he could find them a home but he refused.
A police officer intervened in the row to are control of the situation.
West Mercia Police confirmed some of the birds were killed in the crash.
A force spokesman said: “At approximately 10am this morning, West Mercia Police were called to reports of an overturned trailer containing turkeys on J5 of the M5/A38.
‘Highways England, the fire and rescue service and the ambulance service were also in attendance. There were no reported injuries.
‘RSPCA were also called to the scene, a number of turkeys died as a result of the incident. The road has now reopened.
‘Once recovery was completed and emergency services ensured that members of the public and animals were safe, the remaining turkeys were handed back to their owner.”