Loose livestock continues to plague Hanover

HANOVER – Cows and livestock animals are a common sight in the rural areas of the town of Hanover, but animals running loose has posed concerns with neighbors and motorists about safety.

Councilman Kenneth Cross once again brought the issue of loose livestock plaguing King, Mixer and Gibbs Road residents to the town board in order to consider taking action. He previously brought this issue to the board, which considered the town of North Harmony’s local law, but found issues with passing a law of their own.

Cross asked the board to revisit the law, which would restrict livestock – including horses, cattle, swine, goats, sheep, mules and fowl – from running at large.

“I am going to try this one more time, even though folks in the town think it is humorous, I have been contacted by quite a few people as recently as this afternoon asking for help with this,” he said.

Cross said residents in the area, who are growing cash crops and operating pick-your-own stands, have been bothered by cows and geese roaming on their property.

He also pointed out that cows in the road are a safety hazard on a highway that has a 55 mile per hour speed limit.

“I am told the situation is not getting better, it is getting worse,” he added. “I think we should do something. Someone is going to be killed with these animals in the road.”

Cross said the North Harmony law is “conservative” and basically a fencing ordinance, but it would counter the idea that New York is a free-range state.

Supervisor Todd Johnson said he has been in contact with Undersheriff Charles Holder on the matter. He said residents have been advised to call the sheriff’s office with complaints about the livestock and the sheriff’s office has been keeping records of those complaints.

“We need a law that fits the town,” Johnson said. “It could be the same as North Harmony’s or with some alterations.”

Town Attorney Jeffrey Passafaro pointed to issues with enforcement, which was one of the reasons the board did not act before. Councilman Wayne Ashley said he thought there would be problems with impounding animals, as North Harmony does.

Cross said he hopes passing a law will give violators the message allowing livestock animals to roam free is not allowed.

Councilman Kevin O’Connell said the town will need to be able to seize the animal in order to enforce the law.

The board discussed ways this could be made possible.

Passafaro said the maximum penalty for a local law under the General Municipal Law is $250 or 15 days in jail, although he doubted any judge would hand down jail time for this type of offense.

Cross noted this law is not intended to punish farmers who pen their animals, but on a rare occasion one gets loose; it attempts to regulate perpetually loose animals.

Johnson said the board would take time to review the law, make changes with a hierarchy of fines and rethinking the impound and will announce the date of the public hearing at the Aug. 11 meeting.