This column will appear every other week and the intent is to provide information and clarification of specific laws to the Citizens of Atascosa County. As County Sheriff, I’m often asked about different laws, many of them being obscure or that seldom surface. We will reach deep into the books at times to provide the meaning and intent of the law. At times, we will use this column as a medium to disseminate important information beneficial to the community. The question arises several times a year as to whether Atascosa County is “Open Range” regarding to livestock being permitted to run at large in Atascosa County. Several years ago, I was able to find a copy of Commissioner’s Court minutes from February 11, 1947. At this meeting, a Stock Law Proclamation was passed and signed by County Judge Joye H. Troell and then posted by Sheriff Henry H. Coward. The proclamation was the result of an election held on the 18th of January 1947 throughout Atascosa County, for the purpose of determining whether or not horses, mules, jacks, jennets and cattle should be permitted to run at large in Atascosa County. The Stock Law Proclamation passed after the votes were counted by County Judge Troell with the assistance of Justice of the Peace Paul Desmuke and County Clerk C. W. Martin. Atascosa County is not “OPEN RANGE”.
What this means is that if you own livestock you are required to fence in your animals and keep them from roaming on other’s property or on the roadways. Based on this Stock Law Proclamation that was passed in 1947, the State Law regarding allowing livestock to roam applies to all residents of Atascosa County. Therefore, It’s the Law that you must keep your livestock on your property and contained within a fence. Present day, pursuant to Article 143.034 of the Texas Agriculture Code, it’s a Class C Misdemeanor if you allow livestock to roam on a State, U.S. or Interstate Highway or on someone else’s property. The state law defines livestock as Cattle, Horses, Mules, Jacks, Jennets, Hogs, Sheep and Goats.
I hope this bit of Atascosa County history is helpful or useful and if not, it’s definitely interesting. Have a safe week and if we can be of any assistance to you, please call my office at 830-769-3434.
DAVID SOWARD is the elected Sheriff of Atascosa County. He has been with the sheriff’s office for 42 years and he is in his 7th year as Sheriff. Sheriff Soward holds a Master Peace Officer’s License from the State of Texas.