Loose livestock ordinance gets first OK from county board

Additional action needed before new law hits county books


LEE COUNTY – At the Lee County board’s regular meeting Monday, a new law that has been on Chairman Garry Seyb’s “to do” list for close to two years finally got crossed off that list.
The county gave an initial nod to a loose livestock ordinance that provides for potential fines for livestock owners with repeated incidents of their animals escaping enclosures.
The new law goes into Chapter 10B of the county code, but will require at least one more reading approval before being published as part of the code.
Iowa code requires all new ordinances be read into the record at least three times. However the third time can be waived after the second reading if elected officials vote to do so.
The ordinance is meant to deter irresponsible behaviors and habits of livestock owners who are responsible for such animals.
Under the ordinance language “loose” is defined at “not confined, unrestricted, escaped from confinement, uncontrolled, set free, and/or released.”
The new ordinance requires livestock owners to keep livestock confined at all times and from being on the property of other people without permission. Landowners are also responsible for maintaining tight fences per Iowa Code.
“This is working in conjunction with the Cattleman’s Association. They have reviewed it and we worked with them to make notable changes to the original ordinance put out. I want to thank them for bringing up a couple things, specific to fines that I absolutely agree with,” he said.
He said one of the main changes that has taken place is fine structures. Fines can be levied after a third warning, but it is now a fine per incident and not per animal.
“For instance, if you had an animal get out and another nine followed it, the first incident was $500 per animal and that could’ve been a $5,000 fine. If one gets out it’s highly probably that others will follow,” Seyb said.
“This is to gain compliance. Fix the fence and put your cows away. It’s not a financial boon to the county and we don’t want to hurt you and put you out of business.”
Supervisor Ron Fedler said he spoke with Sparky Wellman, the head of the Lee County Cattleman’s Association about the new ordinance.
“She had run it past her board and it was recommended to go ahead with this. None of them wanted to be blamed for bad apples. After talking with her I spoke with other livestock operators and they said if Sparky was okay with it, the board had no problem with it.”
Violations of the ordinance are considered a simple misdemeanor. A citation can only be issued after three warnings in a calendar year. The first offense is a $500 fine, followed by a $750 fine for a second violation, and then a $1,000 for any subsequent violations. Each day the livestock are considered to be at large constitutes separate offenses under that new code.
The sheriff also has authority under the code to seize or destroy livestock to protect the public from harm after three written warnings are issued and received. All costs of those actions are to paid by the owner of the animals.
The first reading passed 4-0 with Chuck Holmes absent from the meeting.
The ordinance has a six-month sunset to see how it works. It must be reconsidered by the board in January of 2025.

County news, Lee County, board of supervisors, ordinance, loose livestock, farms, cows, bulls, horses, animals, Pen City Current, Iowa,


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