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Wilson County ... home of the ‘closed range’
FLORESVILLE -- Wilson County voters in November 2010 approved a change to the county’s 150-year-old statute, altering “open range” to “closed range.” Some may still be confused what “closed range” means and what animals are affected. In a nutshell, owners of all farm animals are to have the animals fenced in, hence “closed range.”
Building fences to keep livestock off of properties has been a concern not only for farmers protecting their crops, but also for subdivision owners contending with loose livestock. A number of complaints about loose livestock led to petition drives to prompt the election.
In the 2010 election, voters approved two subchapters of the Texas Agriculture Code. The first addresses horses, mules, hogs, sheep, and goats. The second covers the restraint of cattle and domestic turkeys.
Basically, the law states, “A person commits an offense if the person knowingly permits a head of cattle ... to run at large in a county or area that has adopted this subchapter.
“An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.”
Although Wilson County became a closed range county in 2010, U.S. highways and state highways are, citing the Texas Agricultural Code (143.102), considered “closed range.” Ranchers or animal owners are responsible for fencing or confining the livestock owned, and preventing them from straying onto highways.
According to the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association website, “Livestock are not permitted to roam or traverse unattended along a U.S. or state highway. A livestock owner may be charged with a Class C misdemeanor for allowing his or her livestock to do so.”
For more information regarding the stock laws, visit the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association website http://www.texascattleraisers.org and select “Theft & Law” then “Livestock.”
With the ongoing drought, farmers and ranchers are reminded to check the quality of their fencing, since the proverbial grass -- if any -- is always greener on the other side of the fence.
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