I regularly drive long distance in Idaho and other Western states over open-range roads. At every occasion when my vehicle trajectory intersected with black cows standing on a black asphalt highway, sometimes during the darkest, stormy night, I wondered why the time had not come to change open-range entitlements ranchers have long enjoyed. By virtue of cut-and-fill highway construction, radial tires and 300 HP engines, the highways and vehicles from the days when open range made sense have transitioned into today’s technology that is incompatible with the open-range luxury. Recently, as our Lt. Gov. Brad Little admitted, “we get called out at night all the time.” Is this not credible evidence that black cows standing on black roads at night are an all-too-frequent cause of death and destruction to unwitting motorists? To add insult to injury, if a motorist hits one of these mobile roadblocks, it’s the motorist who is responsible for damages to the rancher regardless of weather, prudent driving or the cows’ right to occupy the right-of-way. In other words, it’s always the driver’s fault and tough luck if their car is totaled or injury occurs. The time has come to end the carnage — rescind the open-range law.
Michael Balen, Jackson, Wyo.