**List of available counties updated 11-15-10**
I have recently, with the help of my assistant (and soon-to-be law student) Christina Heddesheimer, taken on the monumental task of compiling the local stock laws for all 254 Texas counties.
Oh, and when I say with the "help" of Christina, I mean that Christina is doing all of heavy lifting and all of the county-by-county research. Her work has been invaluable.
We are so grateful to the many people who have taken time to assist us in this research project in over 100 Texas counties so far. Thank you, Texas county officials!
This project takes extraordinary persistence, hours and hours of time, and lots of patience. And money. It's probably for these reasons that no other lawyer or organization has ever, in the history of the State of Texas, compiled all the stock laws in one place. Until now....
So, why is this project so monumental, you ask? As discussed in an earlier post, the default rule in Texas is that livestock may roam freely in Texas ("open range") . The only state-wide exception is a prohibition of open range grazing/roaming on interstate and state highway right-of-ways. Pursuant to the Texas Agriculture Code and its predecessors, counties have the right to hold one or more elections to restrict the free roaming of livestock. The individual elections can include one or more species (such as cattle, horses, mules, hogs, sheep and goats), and the elections can be held for the whole county or part(s) of each county.
These laws are very difficult to find as they are only located in the commissioner's court minutes of each individual county. The dates these laws were enacted range from the 1800s to now.
The stock laws are important because they often determine who is liable when, for example, a motorist collides with a horse on a farm-to-market road, or a horse gets loose and destroys someone else's property.
So far, we have obtained the stock law status of 234 Texas counties, and we continue to receive more updates daily. We will periodically post updates as we gather more information from more counties. For each of the following counties, we currently either have a copy of the stock law, or we have a confirmation that the county is open range:
52. Deaf Smith
69. Fort Bend
If you would like a copy of one or more stock laws in our compilation, please call 979-229-9718 or send an email to Rick Rowe. Please do not contact Alison Rowe or Kelly Hart & Hallman LLP with respect to stock law copies, as these requests are not being processed through our office. We charge a fee for copies due to the time-intensive and costly nature of this research project.