The NZ Transport Agency and Canterbury Police are reminding Banks Peninsula rural property owners of their responsibility to keep animals safely fenced after a significant rise in reports of wandering stock over the last few weeks.
Reports of stock on State Highway 75 have been coming every day this week to the local Police Officer Anita Osborne – eight call-outs over four days this week and more than a dozen reports since the beginning of December.
The Transport Agency’s Journey Manager Lee Wright says this poses a serious safety risk to all road users, not only on the state highway network, but also on local roads.
The highest number of wandering stock reports in the first two weeks of December is in the area from Little River to Akaroa. Most have been sheep but two involved cows and one was a bull on the highway. Three of the sheep escapes were near the state highway intersection with Bayleys Road (ie Birdlings Flat, entrance to Kaitorete Spit) and in recent days in two incidents more sheep escaped onto the road between Barry’s Bay and Hilltop, both involving the same farmer.
“When farm animals are wandering on highways, they present a significant hazard for anyone driving and there is the potential for serious injury, and even fatal crashes as a result. We don’t want to see this at Christmas time, or anytime of the year.
“The Transport Agency is reminding rural property owners that they are liable for any damage caused by their animals and if they cause a crash and negligence is proven, the livestock owner may be prosecuted.”
Banks Peninsula-based Police Officer Anita Osborne has contacted property owners where wandering stock have been reported. Of those, one farmer is fixing his fence this week, another appeared less concerned about the need for urgency and a third is overseas.
Ms Wright says property and livestock owners need to be aware they have responsibilities under three pieces of legislation – the Crimes Act 1961, the Animal Law Reform Act 1989 and the Impounding Act 1955.
“It is important property and livestock owners are aware of their responsibilities under the acts and take relevant measures to ensure their farm animals remain adequately fenced in – for the sake of the animals and all road users.”
Drivers can also report incidents to the Transport Agency’s 0800 4 HIGHWAYS service.