WSGA: In the News

Date: 12/5/2014 12:00:00 AM

Title: Wyoming fence law targets unlawful grazing


A bill that would make it a crime to unlawfully allow livestock to graze on neighboring lands will be sponsored by the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Agriculture committee.

The legislation makes it a misdemeanor to open a gate or remove a fence for the purpose of allowing livestock to graze on neighboring lands outside the landowner's land use rights. The charge carries a fine of up to $750.

Jim Magagna, executive director of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, said at the group’s 2014 Annual Winter Meeting that the law is aimed to keep owners of small ranchettes from releasing overcrowded animals on larger ranches' private lands.

“Somebody might have 40 acres and they think they can put 50 head of horses on that,” he said. “It doesn’t work. They run out of something to eat and they look to larger pastures with grass owned by a rancher and think 'Let’s just leave the gate open; the horses will get filled up and when they’re full come back home.'”

The legislation would apply to people who own or control livestock. Authorities would have to prove landowners intentionally left gates open or fences in disrepair.

The group’s Brand Committee questioned the legislation's effect on federal lands in the state. Specifically, the committee wondered whether federal agencies would be subject to the legislation.

The bill would apply to livestock owners, Magagna said. 

“I would question the state’s authority to impose a misdemeanor on a federal agency,” he said.

Wyoming legislators will bring the bill to the floor in the January Legislative session.

Reach general assignment reporter Trevor Graff at 307-266-0639 or Follow him on Twitter @TrevGraff.


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