Livestock loose on public roads a costly -- and sometimes deadly -- nuisance
|Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor|
Sept. 17, 2006 -- Most people are familiar with the line "keep them doggies rollin,'" but to many it's just a catchy line in the "Rawhide" theme song.
Unfortunately for Hopkins County sheriff's deputies, rounding up livestock and moving them off of local roads has also become an ever-increasing part of their job description.
In recent months, in fact, the volume of cattle calls has even hampered investigations and other patrols.
A prime example is a recent incident when deputies had to temporarily abandon an investigation into farm equipment thefts in the Miller Grove area -- and on more than one occasion -- to chase livestock such as horses off the road and try to track down the animals' owners.
Last year, a deputy was injured after trying to steer a bull away from oncoming traffic. The deputy was trampled by the bull, which kept running toward him even after the bull was run over by an 18-wheeler, then shot several times by bullets from both the deputy's handgun and that of the reserve deputy with him.
Cows have also been struck by patrol vehicles when they ran into the roadway while deputies� were patrolling or responding to emergency calls, causing damage to the vehicles and injuring deputies.
Sheriff's officers and vehicles aren't the only people and property damaged by unsecured livestock. Over the past few years, vehicle-livestock crashes have resulted in people being killed and injured and vehicles damaged and even totaled. Roaming animals have also caused damage to pastures and yards while "visiting" neighboring properties.
That's why Hopkins County Sheriff Butch Adams has issued a plea urging all livestock owners to check their fence lines and gates to make sure they are secure.
"Our main concern is health and damages," Adams said. "Our goal is to get people to fix their fences. We know if they can check and fix fences as soon as possible, it would help us a lot.
"We've had a number of calls of livestock in the same areas over and over. Because� the time spent on cow calls is time taken away from other duties, we will probably start issuing citations after two to three times we're called and issue warnings."
Adams said that when officers respond to cattle or livestock calls, attempts are normally made to contact the owners regarding the problem. However, those efforts are sometimes slowed when officers have to go looking for the owners, often contacting several people before finding the responsible party.
The sheriff is also asking that anyone who has cattle or livestock to contact the sheriff's office so that their contact information can be recorded should officers need to reach them regarding the animals. Also, a description of the animals is helpful.
In some areas of the county, deputies have responded at least once — if not several times — to cattle calls recently.
Livestock owners in the following areas where officers have responded recently are especially encouraged to offer authorities their contact and livestock information:
Cattle — FM 2297 at County Roads 1102 and 1217, State Highway 11 at FM 2653, FM 71 at County Road 4743, State Highway 19 at FM 71, FM 69 south at County Road 2337, County Road 2408 at FM 269, FM 1567 near County Road 1159, FM 3105 at FM 3385, the dead end of County Road 3311, FM 2653 at County Road 1120, County Road 1174 at County Road 1106, FM 3389 at County Road 1100, County Road 3512 at County Road 3236, State Highway 19 at County Road 1174.
Horses — FM 900 east of FM 3019, State Highway 154 south in Restlawn community, County Road 2081 at County Road 1193.Horses, cows and other livestock — State Hwy. 11 west at the bridges, State Highway 19 north. If animals continue to be a problem, or the owners cannot be located, an officer will impound the animals. A public notice will be printed in the News-Telegram three times, and if the animals are not claimed, they will be sold at auction within 10 days. Money collected from the sale of impounded animals will be used to cover costs of impounding and caring for the animals while impounded. If any money is left over after those fees, the remaining money will go into the county's jury fund.