The recent editorial, “Let’s make Idaho’s open range areas safer,” (Nov. 28) was a welcome start to the conversation that Idaho needs to be having about preventing avoidable accidents on our roadways. While I agree that, “Exposure to road hazards is part of the reality of traveling in Idaho or anywhere else,” it’s not true that road hazards must include being prepared for someone else’s unpredictable private property wandering into your way.
Only livestock owners are absolved of their duty to keep their private property from harming others. Everyone else would be held liable if their car rolled into a highway, if their unsecured load fell onto a car, or if their dog attacked someone. Why is it different when the property is a cow or a horse?
Additionally, livestock owners should be required to have liability insurance to pay for accidents or damages caused by escaped stock. There may be times when the motorist is the one to blame, in which case the insurance companies can fight it out. But let’s not absolve ranchers of all liability in advance with our antiquated open range laws. It’s time for the laws to match the reality of the new West.
Kenneth Cole, Idaho director, Western Watersheds Project, Boise