My milk goats ate my geraniums! I was frustrated and disappointed. I had just spent $12 for the pot and decidedly do not have a green thumb. They were enjoying what looked like a nice snack. What does that have to do with Open Range? Plenty!
During territorial times, cattle and other livestock roamed freely on Open Range. About the time Arizona obtained statehood, ranches were fenced as separate units and the Open Range was no more. The correct term for controlling livestock movement in Arizona is Fence Out.
Fence Out – I fence the goats out of areas I don’t want them around. You, as a property owner, are responsible for your little corner of the world. Concerned about protecting your blossoms from wildlife or livestock? You (not your neighbors or local government) are responsible to lawfully Fence Out. The fence must be built in a manner that will effectively turn livestock, with barbed wire or other suitable materials and regularly maintained.
State law, Arizona Revised Statute 3-1422, specifies “An owner or occupant of land is not entitled to recover for damage resulting from the trespass of animals unless the land is enclosed within a lawful fence, but this section shall not apply to owners or occupants of land in no-fence districts.”
No Fence – I fence my goats into a pen and as any goat owner knows, it had better be agood one! The Stewart District, north of Willcox, is the only no-fence district in the state. This district facilitates farming of irrigated land. Much of the eastern US is no fence, or fence in.
The Arizona Revised Statutes 3-1421 through 3-1429 clearly define a lawful fence, compensationavailable for damage to property that is lawfully fenced, and the formation of “no-fence” districts.
During the 1960s and 70s much of the private property in close proximity to towns like Pearce and Willcox was subdivided. Many of those 1-acre or smaller parcels are now on the back tax rolls. Designated roads are unmaintained and eroding into gullies. Ranchers in these areas provide water for wildlife, slow erosion through proper grazing use, and deter traffic by illegals, all at no cost to the numerous absentee landowners.
Hope that clears up some of the confusion on this issue. Simple solution – your property, you fence it.