East Texas ranchers, motorists dealing with loose livestock in wake of flooding

East Texas ranchers, motorists dealing with loose livestock in wake of flooding

NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Loose livestock happens frequently every spring when grazing animals just know the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.

This year the problem, is worse due to widespread flooding. Livestock owners are contending with the problem, as are motorists.

In the Angelina River bottom on Highway 7 West skid, marks are found where two cows were hit by a vehicle before sunup Thursday morning. Bloody patches on the roadside show where the carcasses laid until they were removed.

Beware. It's a road hazard increasing region wide.

Water building up on these fence lines it brings debris," said Larry Hand, a special agent with the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. "The debris all catches the force of the water pushes the fence lines down."

"This is the worse we've ever had," said Gerald Files, a 90-year-old Louisiana rancher.

Files was just one of many Louisiana ranchers who created standing room only today at the Nacogdoches Livestock Exchange. Some are selling off their cattle because of flooded pastures or too much fence is down to keep them in. The selloff safeguards the capital investment, while insurance protects them in case of a roadway accident.

"We all carry liability insurance on that, you know," Files said. "You better because you get in trouble if you don't have it."

By state law, all loose livestock should be reported to the closest sheriff's office. Every attempt will be made to contact the owner. If unsuccessful, cowboys are hired to round up the loose livestock.

"If they weren't intentionally let out on the highway, it's not a violation, it's not against the law," said Kt. Bill Ball with the Nacogdoches Sheriff's Office.

It can turn into a Class C Misdemeanor or lead to a civil lawsuit if an accident happens when animals are purposely released, or there's a failure to repair fences in a timely manner.

"That's one thing you need to check," Files said. "Keep your fences up."

Motorists are encouraged to report loose livestock to 911 to help prevent an accident from happening.

All kinds of useful information on what to do when livestock is found outside their property can be found on the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association Website.

Copyright 2016 KTRE. All rights reserved.