Cleaning up after livestock

Published 1:12 pm Thursday, October 13, 2016

Last week, we ran a front-page story about how cows and sheep have been grazing (and what comes after grazing) on Eureka Elementary School’s grounds west of Keysville.

It may seem like one of those funny “only in Southside Virginia” stories, but it’s a real problem. The cows and sheep are leaving behind a mess, making it impossible for students to play outside, which is something everyone agrees kids need. It’s even delayed students from being able to get off buses in the morning.

In addition, according to Charlotte County Public Schools Superintendent Nancy Leonard, “plants around Eureka are being damaged and the land around the foundation of the building is being damaged.”

This is a serious, going-to-hit-the-county-in-the-pocketbook problem.

While the school’s resource officer is doing his best to help, Virginia is a “free range” commonwealth. This means animals, including livestock, can roam free without major legal repercussions, according to Leonard.

The school system would have to pay out a lot of money to erect a fence that is both cattle-proof and child-safe — around 41 acres. Luckily, it may not come to that, as Leonard also reported the livestock owner is trying to do the right thing in moving the animals to another pasture and having workers fix the fence.

If it happens again, however, who should bear responsibility? Should Virginia change its laws and stop being a free range commonwealth?

The implications could be far-reaching.