It’s 9 pm, Do You Know Where Your Goat Is?

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

An Indian goat herder displays a goat to customers at an animal market in the Old Quarters of New Delhi. Here in Texas, an new bill could make property owners liable if they hurt a goat or sheep that wanders onto their property.

Goats and sheep with wanderlust in Texas could find a little more protection from a new bill making its way through the legislature.

The bill, HB 1819, by Rep. Kyle Kacal, R-Bryan, would make a property owner liable for killing or brutalizing goats or sheep that trespass onto their property due to an insufficient fence.

Bob Turner, a former representative, lifelong sheep rancher and member of the Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers Association, said it’s about time two of Texas’ more profitable, cloven hoofed animals are protected by the same rules that cattle, horses and donkeys have enjoyed for decades.

Turner testified in favor of the bill at a House Agriculture and Livestock Committee meeting Wednesday at the Capitol.

“These two species, I would say, were inadvertently left off of the original statue. Why they were not included? I’m not sure. I was not here when this happened and none of you were either,” Turner said.

Goat and sheep ranching is big business in Texas, the state is the largest producer of mohair and wool in the country. West Texas’ economy in particular benefits from sheep and goats, Turner said.

Committee member Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, expressed concern that he could be held liable for for the exploits of his wildest family member.

“I’ve got a dog because I live out in the country. My dog is very protective near my house. If my dog kills that sheep that’s on my front yard, then I’m now liable for that sheep?”

If the new law passes, you would be, Turner said.

Donald Driver, a board member of the East Texas Goat Raisers Association, told StateImpact Texas he hadn’t heard about the bill. He said errant goats and people killing them aren’t really a problem in his area of the state. Goats have certainly escaped their enclosures, he said, but the remedy is simple.

“The ones up here, if you get near them and shake a bucket they’ll come over to you,” Driver said.

The bill was left pending in committee.

David Barer is a reporting intern with StateImpact Texas.

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