2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

What to do when the cows come home – to your home

Published: May 6, 2014, 12:31 pm, by Bill Radford

I talked Monday with Chris Whitney, the state brand commissioner, about Colorado’s fence law.  Essentially, what that law says is that livestock (mostly cattle and horses) are permitted to range where they want.

“They’re allowed to range where nature takes them and if you don’t want them on your property, you have the obligation to fence them out,” Whitney says. “The owner of the livestock has no obligation to fence them in.”

Of course, the livestock owner presumably doesn’t want his animals straying too far. The subject is of interest to me because we have a ranch in the neighborhood, and a couple of cows keep wandering from the ranch and onto our property. At first they were content with paying a visit out front and saying hi. Then they discovered the remains of a big, round bale of hay out back and keep showing up each evening for a late dinner. While our pasture is fenced, our front and back yards are not.

The good news is that we have a red heeler and a blue heeler – both Australian cattle dogs – and they’ve been adept at running the cows off (though they did misdirect them down a neighbor’s driveway one time). The bad news is that the cows have realized the dogs are really no threat and are now starting to ignore them.

I’ll have more on Colorado’s fence law in an upcoming column.