Legal Insight. Business Instinct.

Trespassing pigs

Several years ago we brought home from the Bonneville County Fair a pig that my daughter had won in the greased pig contest. We had never raised a pig before, and this pig wasn’t very big to begin with. However, when we got home with the pig we quickly built a pen out of some cattle panels, gave it some feed and water, and went to bed. The next morning we awoke and discovered that the pig had evaporated! It was nowhere to be found.

We organized a search party and soon discovered that some neighbors had seen the pig wandering through their yard. Another neighbor was surprised to find it peering through her front door. At last we discovered the pig in a neighbor’s corral more than a ½ mile away from our home. We made some improvements to the pig’s pen and were grateful to have found our lost pig.

Since 1881 Idaho has legislated against trespassing pigs. Idaho law does not require a landowner to fence out pigs. Rather, when pigs trespass onto someone else’s property the owner of the pig is responsible for any damages caused by the pig. Idaho Code § 25-2102.

A person who finds a trespassing pig on their property may hold the pig and must post three notices in a “plain, legible hand” giving a correct description of the pig, including a description of marks and brands, and post the notices in a conspicuous place in the precinct where the pig was found.

If there is a dispute over the amount of damages owed, the owner and the aggrieved party must each select a disinterested person who then hear all the evidence and determine the amount of damages. The amount determined for damages becomes a lien on the pig any any other non-exempt property of the owner. If the damages are not paid within five days the Sheriff may sell the pig at public auction to satisfy the lien. § 25-2104. Either party feeling aggrieved by the award of the disinterested arbitrators may appeal to the courts, but must first post a bond to cover the cost of all costs and expenses.

Lest all of this pig procedure seem a little silly, be advised that it is unlawful to willfully or negligently allow your pigs to run at large within the limits of any city, or within the vicinity of any farm, ranch or dwelling, without a drover (i.e. a person who drives animals). Idaho Code § 25-2107. A violation of this statute is a misdemeanor and punishable by jail time and fines. Id.

(Note: The Idaho statutes referenced all refer to “hogs” rather than “pigs.” However, the technical definition of a hog is a pig in excess of 120 lbs. Therefore, the author believes that his escaped pig was too small to qualify as “hog” and he is therefore not guilty of having violated the misdemeanor provisions referenced in this article. The author also eventually ate the pig to avoid any additional incidents of trespass.)

– Lance J. Schuster is a lawyer at Beard St. Clair Gaffney. He and his wife raise kids and cattle on their small farm near Idaho Falls. He can be reached at 523-5171 or

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