Legal Insight. Business Instinct.

Careless Exposure of Barbed Wire

The history of barbed wire is the history of the West. Barbed wire, also known as barb wire, made it practical to fence large areas and dramatically reduced the costs of fencing. Barbed wire played an important role in the protection of range rights and allowed ranchers to contain livestock. Most Idaho farmers and ranchers have barbed wire fences on their property.

However, for the very reason that barbed wire effectively contains livestock, it can also cause injury to livestock and to people. It is unlawful for any person who has a barbed wire fence to allow the fence to be left down or strewn about on the ground in such a manner that livestock might be injured by the barbed wire. Livestock or wildlife can be easily entangled and die in a barbed wire fence that is tangled and lying on the ground. It also poses a hazard for people. Anyone who has scratched our gouged themselves on barbed wire knows the danger that those barbs impose.

Idaho law requires an officer of the law with knowledge to notify a barbed wire fence owner, or the owners of property where barbed wire is strewn about, that barbed wire or a barbed wire fence is down or strewn on the ground. In turn, a fence owner is required to remove the same within ten (10) days after such notice. Failure to remove a down barbed wire fence, or barbed wire strewn about, can result in a misdemeanor and fines.

In those cases where the owner of a down fence or wire cannot be found, Idaho law further authorizes a Sheriff to sell the wire at public auction to the highest bidder with the proceeds going to the expense of removing the barbed wire or barbed wire fence.

Carelessly exposing livestock and people to entanglement and injury in barbed wire is against the law. The law of the land requires Idaho farmers and ranchers to repair their fences and properly dispose of old barbed wire.

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