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Ask A Trooper: Escaped cows can cause possible traffic hazard

By Troy Christianson

Question: My neighbor’s cattle are always out. They don’t take care of their fence and they are getting into my yard. I can deal with that, but my real concern is the highway we live along. I’m worried someone is going to hit a cow and get hurt or something worse. There must be a law about this.

Answer: This is concerning as this type of activity could lead to a crash resulting in life-changing injuries. In 2019, Minnesota had 1,632 crashes involving animals. While most of those were deer, a significant number of the crashes involved cattle.

Throughout my career, I’ve responded to several crashes involving cattle, horses, donkeys, mules, sheep, swine, goats and much more. A vehicle running into (and sometimes under) a 1,000 to 2,000 pound animal can quickly turn a sedan into a convertible. Many of these crashes resulted in serious injuries and occasionally something worse.

To answer your question, yes, there is a law. Minnesota State Statute 346.16 addresses livestock “running at large.” The law states that civil action can also be taken. The owner of the animal is responsible for keeping it fenced in and safely off public roadways.

You can avoid a ticket — and a crash — if you simply buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and always drive sober.  Help us drive Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson – Minnesota State Patrol at 2900 48th Street NW, Rochester MN 55901-5848.  (Or reach him at, Troy.Christianson@state.mn.us)