Sheriff's department told to consult with livestock producers


Capital Press

TWIN FALLS, Idaho -- Twin Falls County commissioners have remanded an ordinance regulating wandering livestock back to the county sheriff's department.

The proposal would have created rules and penalties for ranchers and farmers when their livestock or other large animals escape the confines of fenced fields and wandered onto roads or private property. It was created by the sheriff's department.

"There was not a lot of slack for first-time offenders, and it was just too vague," Commissioner Leon Mills said.

The ordinance would fine first-time offenders $50 a day, second-time offenders within two years $100 a day, and third-time offenders up to $1,000 and possible jail time of up to six months.

The proposal, which would pertain to any animal in excess of 25 pounds, raised concern in the livestock sector, particularly among cattlemen, Mills said.

Commissioners directed the sheriff's department to rewrite it with the input of livestock producers or drop it, he said.

Idaho Cattle Association President Charlie Lyons stated in an Aug. 3 letter to commissioners that the harsh penalties raised concerns.

Such strict penalties for violators within such an extended period of two years would result in wasted resources policing good, hard-working citizens, he said.

"The nature of this ordinance and its penalties leaves the impression of completely overlooking those livestock owners who truly are negligent in their care of animals and minimizes the need to focus on those who are habitual offenders," he stated.

The ordinance was also vague as to where the law could be applied, leaving the impression that the county could choose to enforce the policy in open-range areas, Lyons said.

County commissioners understand the sheriff's department's frustration when it comes to repeat offenders, Mills said.

They "can't even write a ticket," he said.

Commissioners also want to keep animals off the roads and out of harm's way and protect citizens' safety and property, he said.

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