We were traveling in Central Oregon and were surprised to come across a herd of cattle being driven along the highway. We weren't delayed for very long, but it made me wonder: Is that legal? I remember seeing sheep and cattle on the roads when I was a kid, but that was a while ago, and I guess I had assumed it wouldn't be legal in this day and age.
— Robert, Medford
Well, Robert, we won't ask just how long ago that was, even though you don't tell us whether you were traveling by car or wagon train. But we can tell you it is legal to herd livestock on a highway, as long as you take measures to keep them under control.
Oregon law (ORS 814.150) describes the offense of "failure to perform the duties of a person in charge of livestock on a highway." The rules stipulate that the person in charge of the animal or animals:
- Must keep a lookout for vehicles and use caution to keep the animal under control.
- Shall use reasonable care and diligence to open the roadway for vehicular traffic.
- Shall position a person at the front of the herd to warn drivers that the herd is approaching.
- Shall give a distress signal to an approaching driver by raising the person’s hand if the animals become frightened.
The statute applies to horses, mules, donkeys, cattle, swine, sheep or goats.
— Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to email@example.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.