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Local farmer acts quickly to prevent stock wandering onto SH35

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Waka Kotahi NZ Transport is praising a local East Coast farmer for taking fast action to strengthen fencing on his property to prevent livestock from wandering onto State Highway 35.

Paroa Station, north of Tolaga Bay, recently came into new ownership, and farm manager Mike Atkins quickly identified that the fencing surrounding the property on State Highway 35 was not secure and took action to fix the problem, at a cost to the farm owners.

“I’ve seen first-hand the damage that can be caused by a vehicle colliding with a cow, and I didn’t want to be responsible for that. As farmers, we all have a responsibility to ensure our stock can’t get out and endanger people on the roads,” Mr Atkins says.

“The fencing I put up around the farm wasn’t difficult to install. It does the job well and keeps my stock in. The only thing likely to get out of the property now is a rat.”

Stock wandering onto State Highway 35 has been an ongoing issue. Since Waka Kotahi resumed management of wandering stock in the region in July 2020, it has recorded a large increase in the number of incidents.

“Animals wandering onto the highway present a significant safety risk for motorists. There is the potential for serious injuries, and even fatal crashes, as a result,” Senior Network and Journey Manager Helen Harris says.

“Just a few weeks ago, two more cows were hit on the highway near Ruatoria. One car was written off, and we’re just lucky that no one was seriously injured.

“We’ve been pleading with farmers for months to check their fences and make any necessary fixes to ensure animals cannot wander onto the road. It is frustrating that we continue to receive calls about stock on the road, so again we’re asking farmers to do the right thing and keep their stock secure.

“Mike is an example to all farmers and we thank him for acting quickly to get secure fencing up around his property. We need everyone in the region to do the same if they haven’t already, so that we can avoid any more incidents.

“There’s only so much Waka Kotahi can do. We need farmers to do their bit to keep their stock off the road,” Ms Harris says.

Under the local bylaw, stock are not permitted to graze on the state highway during hours of darkness. When stock are grazing the road side during the day, farmers are encouraged to ensure a stock manager is available to monitor the animals.

The owners of stock are liable for any damage caused if their stock are wandering, and they can be prosecuted if animals cause a crash and negligence is proven.

Motorists are asked to report any wandering stock by phoning 0800 4 HIGHWAYS.

Example of secure fencing.

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