Being “free range” is a good thing if you’re a chicken, duck or other domestic fowl – unless you range onto the property of an irritated neighbor, that is.
Under a proposed addition to state law, such trespass might make the bird’s owner liable for a fine.
“A constituent showed me some video of some ducks – I think they were ducks – coming onto their property. He was looking for some relief,” said Michael Moffet, a Republican from Loudon.
“I’d like to think that neighbors can solve these sorts of issues, but if not, it’s helpful to have something to back you up,” he added.
Moffet is proposing to add the word “fowl” to an existing law titled Trespassing Stock (RSA 635:3), which makes it a violation for the owner of “any sheep, goats, cattle, horses, or swine” to let them wander onto other people’s property if it “thereby injures his crops or property.”
His proposal, known as an LSR, which stands for Legislative Service Request, is one of hundreds lined up for consideration by the New Hampshire Legislature this session
The issue of wandering fowl may be more pressing because of an increase in small-scale domestic poultry as part of a boom in backyard farms.
The number of farms reporting that they raise poultry for meat or eggs rose from almost 800 in 2007 to more than 930 in 2012, five years later. The trend does not seem to have slowed, although more recent data has not been compiled.
The “trespassing stock” law is not the only one on the New Hampshire books concerning animals crossing borders. Perhaps the most is extreme is RSA 466:28, titled “killing dogs legalized,” which says that a dog may be killed if it is found “worrying, wounding, or killing sheep, lambs, fowl, or other domestic animals.”