Wandering stock notices – a new policy for the grapevine.

Often people send us notices of wandering stock on roads – I know these notices are often sent with the best intentions… but:

I’m always concerned about posting these types of notices out to the grapevine; if someone has subsequently come across this mob, and if you haven’t stopped and acted to try to secure the stock, or reported it in a manner designed to see the stock secured and dealt with – then you *may* become liable for any subsequent damage through your lack of further (appropriate) activity. – Effectively you have known about a present risk on the road to other drivers, and perhaps if you have done too little about it, you may well now be jointly culpable, along with the stock owner for any subsequent damage.

I have called NZTA to ask for clarification on the obligations which drivers face if they discover wandering stock on a road; their advice was hazy at best. – The only legal obligation which they could state was that of the owners of the stock to prevent them from getting onto the road in the first place. – There is apparently no legal obligation for anyone to take action to report this through official channels. – I was personally quite surprised by this.

So, instead of using legal references to encourage people to act responsibly towards other road users, we have to use moral grounds: If you’re in a position where you can help to make other road users safer; then I encourage you to do so. I’ve been living in the area for 15 years now and have made a point of setting myself some personal rules in terms of my own behaviour when it comes to discovering stock on roads – I will ALWAYS deal with the problem. I’ve had three near misses with stock on roads, mostly at night; and I’ve had one incident where I wasn’t able to avoid hitting a farm dog on SH16. I’ve seen a ute smash into bobby calves at 100kph on SH1 and total the vehicle, killing two calves in the process. I hate to think what might happen on some of our rural roads, with steep sides and drop-offs, if someone were to swerve to avoid something which shouldn’t be there.

Every time we come across animals which shouldn’t be on the road, please-please-please, get involved directly; stop, get help, move the animals off the road into a nearby paddock. Then if you can, make every effort to find the legal owners and tell them where their stock is. – If you feel so inclined, call stock control to ensure that the matter is handled officially and that all of the relevant precautions are adequately taken to prevent it from recurring.

From the Auckland Council Website:
(http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/en/licencesregulations/dogsandanimals/otheranimals/pages/reportingproblems.aspx#wandering)

Wandering animals or stock

If you see cows, bulls or other livestock wandering, please report it as follows.

State highways

Contact the New Zealand Transport Agency. – Motorists are asked to report any wandering stock by phoning 0800 4 HIGHWAYS

    Auckland motorways
Contact Auckland Motorway Alliance, phone 09 520 0200 or email help@ama.nzta.govt.nz.

    All other areas
For all other areas, please call us on 0800 462 685. We are here to help 24 hours a day seven days a week.

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The grapevine is not an appropriate place to report wandering stock; it may be convenient to you, but in no way does it guarantee either an appropriate response time or that you’ll manage to get any meaningful notice out to those who might be driving along that stretch of road, nor does it address the issue appropriately with the owner of that stock. – Just sending us a notice is a half-hearted effort to do the right thing.

I’m setting a new Grapevine policy today; I’m only going to forward notices out about wandering stock, if you have demonstrated within the notice that you have personally taken all reasonable steps to deal with the issue yourself – in conjunction with asking us to let others know about it.

If you just drive by, then send us an email then I’m sorry, but that’s simply not enough and it’s not responsible enough behaviour; it does next to nothing to help others be safe on the roads. It’s lazy and and we’re not interested in encouraging that type of behaviour any more.

We’re no longer willing to send those kinds of notices out; it’s often too late by the time we get to those notices for them to be meaningful anyway.

Regards, Chris.