A Cow Strayed Onto My Land, Can I Keep It?

Any landowner can take any farm animal that strays onto his or her land, but only for a certain time period, as long as that person makes a reasonable inquiry into the true owner of the strayed animal. If the landowner knows the identity of the true owner, then the landowner must communicate with the true owner to attempt to return the animal. The true owner may be required to pay the landowner for damages incurred from taking up and caring for the animal. If the identity of the true owner is unknown, then within seven (7) days of taking the animal, the landowner must give a detailed report to the county sheriff, describing the animal and the circumstances surrounding the find. Until the county sheriff takes custody of the animal, he or she is lawfully entitled to keep the animal.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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