Saturday March 29 2014
Idaho is a state with "Open Range Laws", meaning livestock has the right of way. Cows wander in and scare your horses off and eat your hay? Too bad, you have to fence them out. Bull charges you out in the open? Too bad, he has the right of way. You hit a cow out on the highway? Too bad, you are liable and you get to pay for your car damage and reimburse the rancher. (We know to drive very carefully on the highways in the winters and springs here.)
The property owner has to fence unwanted livestock out. (Idaho Code apparently allows counties to create "herd districts" where the animal's owner is liable for any damage it causes, but I expect there aren't many herd districts in the state; and anyway, land previously used as open range can't become a herd district.)
There are plenty of twists and turns within this law (such as, what defines a "lawful fence"), but the basic law is, if you don't want the cows on your property, you have to maintain the fencing to keep them out.
We get the occasional cow or two or three every year up our canyon that we drive on out (although if it's a bull, we call the ranchers to come get their bulls! We don't mess with bulls), but this year, many, many cows can't resist our green grass and the delightful bubbling crick up the canyon.
This winter, we're doing a lot of moving cows out, and we're doing a lot of fencing 'em out. Hammering the little U-nail-jobbers is good hand-eye coordination practice for some people (ahem), and besides, driving cows is excellent cross-training for the endurance horses, some of whom are afraid of cows.
It's just part of life in the West!