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Ask a Trooper: Is a livestock owner liable if vehicle hits animal?

Sgt. Neil Dickenson, Minnesota State Patrol

Question: My neighbor has cattle and horses, and I know they had gotten out of their fences and onto the road a few times. If they are struck by a vehicle, can he get cited or sued?

Answer: Law enforcement could cite your neighbor, and he could be sued civilly by someone who was injured or sustained loss because of an incident like this. Minnesota state law says: "It shall be unlawful for any owner or any person having the control of any such animal to permit the same to run at large in the state."

In my career, I have responded to crashes where farm animals were struck by a vehicle and the occupants were injured. If farm animals are on the road, law enforcement will assist in getting them off the road and to the rightful owner before they get hit.

Normally, this is done without taking enforcement action. However, I believe repeated offenses would warrant enforcement action, especially if an officer knows there is a history of animals (being at large) involving the same owner.

Animal owners shall make sure that all fencing is in adequate condition and maintained to prevent injuries to the animals and motorists if the animal is struck.

Anytime you see a farm animal on the roadway, call 911 and report it. Law enforcement will assist in the removal and provide emergency lights to warn other approaching motorists.

Send your questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota to or Sgt. Neil Dickenson — Minnesota State Patrol at 1131 Mesaba Ave., Duluth, MN 55811.