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County livestock ordinance a possibility

The Charlotte County Board of Supervisors recently discussed the possibility of a county fence law to prohibit the running of at large livestock.

According to the ordinance rough draft provided by the Board, if approved, it would be unlawful to permit livestock to run at large beyond the limits of the owner or manager’s land within the county.

Currently, Charlotte County is an open designation, which means that livestock can roam freely, according to Drakes Branch Supervisor Garland Hamlett, Jr.

Under the proposed ordinance draft, “the boundary of each lot or tract of land in the county is declared and established to be a lawful fence as to any livestock . . ..” Any violation of the ordinance would result in a fine, no greater than $250.

“The situation has come up before,” said Cullen/Red House Supervisor Nancy Carwile . . . “recently, the school had a situation where some cattle and sheep got on the playground at Eureka [Elementary].” However, she said most local farmers try hard to keep their animals within the proper boundaries.

“Our concern was that if you put in a rigid law . . . that you’d be fined or that people would complain and call the Sheriff,” Carwile. She said the board did not want to punish the individuals who were trying to do the right thing.

Underneath the ordinance rough draft, the term “livestock” includes cattle, horses, mules, goats, sheep, swine, donkeys, alpaca, llamas, and other four-legged hooved animals.

County Administrator R.B Clark said the last time the Board attempted to do something of the agriculture nature, there was a lot of opposition from the agriculture community.

Carwile said declaring the boundaries as a legal fence, would give the Sheriff better control when situations arise. “People have to realize that they need to put out a complaint in order for something to happen. By creating this ordinance we feel like it’d make it easier,” she said.

However, Vice Chairman Gary Walker suggested the board gather public comment before proceeding.

“I think we need to show the community the courtesy to let them know that we’re discussing it and we want to hear what they have to say …” Walker said.

A public hearing will be held at a later date.