Stray (Trespassing) Livestock
The Stray Animals Act, the Act deals with trespassing alpacas, bison, cattle, donkeys, goats, horses, llamas, mules, sheep and swine. This Act imposes obligations and liability on:
- owners to keep their livestock from trespassing on land owned by another person or on a highway; and
- persons who open and fail to close a gate or tampers with, damages or destroys a gate or fence.
Failure to comply with these obligations can result in civil action for damages or charges under the Act which can result in fines up to $5,000.00.
More importantly, the Stray Animals Act allows an owner or occupier of land to capture and confine trespassing livestock and claim the costs of doing so and any damages caused by the trespassing livestock. This remedy requires the capture and confinement to be reported within 48 hours by filing a Statement of Capture with an inspector. Strict compliance with this reporting requirement in the Stray Animals Act is important because failure to do so will amount to theft or conversion of the livestock and can result in civil or criminal action being taken. It is an offence under the Criminal Code to fraudulently take, hold, keep in his possession, conceal, receive, appropriate, purchase or sell livestock that are found trespassing, without the consent of the owner of the livestock.
The following is an outline of the rules with respect to capturing trespassing livestock.
If you are the owner or occupier of land with trespassing livestock
If you know who owns or was the last person in possession of the trespassing livestock, you are encouraged to contact the owner (or last person in possession) and make arrangements for them to enter your property to capture and remove their livestock. If this is an isolated incident, that should be the end of the matter. If not, it is suggested that you keep a record of the incident and the outcome in the event you need to prove prior instances of trespass at a later date.
Capture and Confinement
If livestock trespass on your property, you may capture and confine them yourself or authorize someone do this on your behalf. You are only authorized to capture and confine trespassing livestock while they are on your land. LIS Livestock Inspectors and the RCMP (being inspectors under the Act) are not responsible for capturing and confining stray animals on your property.
- Capture: is the act of catching trespassing livestock on private property.
- Confine: is the act of securing trespassing livestock and keeping it in a place where it cannot escape capture, for example, putting the animal in a corral or stall.
Reporting the capture and confinement
Once the trespassing livestock is captured and confined, you must not, unless authorized by an inspector, permit or allow the captured livestock to be transported or driven along a highway or over any land which you do not own or legally occupy.
Within 48 hours of capturing and confining trespassing livestock you must complete a Statement of Capture and claim any expenses incurred in connection with the capture of the livestock on the Statement of Capture and send the completed form to your local LIS Livestock Inspector.
If you know who owns the livestock or who was last in possession of the livestock, you must, as soon as reasonably possible notify the owner or the last person in possession that you have captured and confined their livestock. If you are able to notify the owner or last person in possession of the capture after you submit your Statement of Capture, the inspector will assist in making arrangements with the owner or last person in possession for the return of the livestock prior to any further steps being taken under the Act.
Payment of expenses claimed on the Statement of Capture
The expenses claimed on your Statement of Capture will be paid either by the owner or last person in possession of the livestock when the livestock is claimed or out of the proceeds from the sale of the livestock.
Compensation for damages
Under the Stray Animals Act both the owner and the last person in possession of the trespassing livestock are liable to you for damage done to real or personal property caused by the trespass of the livestock or by any person capturing the livestock as well as the expenses incurred in capturing and confining the livestock. If the trespassing livestock is sold by public auction you can submit a claim to LIS for payment of compensation for such damage. However, this compensation can only be paid out of the balance of the sale proceeds, if any, available after payment of the stray expenses. If there is no or insufficient net sale proceeds available your only option is to sue the owner or last person in possession of the trespassing livestock for damages.
The Stray Animals Act does not deal with liability for personal injuries caused to you or any person capturing or confining the stray livestock. Personal injuries caused by trespassing livestock must be dealt with separately in a lawsuit against the owner or last person in possession.
Next Steps after a Statement of Capture is submitted
A Livestock Inspector will contact you upon receipt of your Statement of Capture and make arrangements to impound the livestock. With your permission, the inspector may impound the livestock where they were captured and confined or arrange for the livestock to be transported and impounded at another location.
If the trespassing livestock is impounded on your property, you will legally retain possession of the livestock under a bailee's undertaking and will be compensated for the cost of maintaining the livestock while impounded.
Impounded livestock are under the control of the inspector and cannot be transported or disposed of except in accordance with the Stray Animals Act and with the consent of the inspector. No one is allowed to transport, move or dispose of impounded livestock without the prior consent of the inspector.
Once the livestock is impounded the inspector will take steps to find the owner or last person in possession and arrange for the return of the livestock.
If the expenses are not paid by the owner or last person in possession or if the owner or last person is possession is not found, the inspector will arrange for the livestock to be sold by public auction.
If you are the owner or last person in possession of trespassing livestock
Livestock owners are responsible for fencing in their livestock. If your livestock escape and are found trespassing on land owned by someone else or on a highway you are must take all necessary steps to capture your livestock as soon as possible and take them home.
If your trespassing livestock is captured and confined on private property or captured and removed from a public highway, you will be required to pay the following stray expenses before your livestock will be returned to you:
- expenses incurred in transporting the livestock
- expenses incurred in identifying the livestock
- expenses incurred in maintaining the livestock
- expenses incurred in capturing, confining and impounding the livestock; and
- expenses incurred in ascertaining or attempting to ascertain the owner of the livestock.
If these expenses are not paid within the 14-day notice period, your livestock will be sold by public auction and the above expenses and the expenses incurred in selling the livestock will be deducted from the sale proceeds.
In addition, you are liable to the property owner for any damage done to real and personal property caused by the trespass of the livestock or by any person in capturing the livestock. If your livestock are sold, these damages can be paid out of any sale proceeds remaining after the stray expenses are paid.
The stray expenses and damages to real or personal property are payable by you regardless of the reason your livestock escaped and whether it was your fault or not. You are not liable, however, for any damage or expense that is entirely due to the fault of the owner or occupier of the property or the person capturing the livestock.
Any claim for personal injuries or death caused by trespassing livestock is not dealt with by the Stray Animals Act. Livestock owners are not liable for damages for any personal injury or death caused by escaped livestock unless the person injured can prove that the livestock owner was negligent in allowing the livestock to escape.
For more information about the Stray Animals Act check out the Legislation.