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Praise for efforts to keep stock from wandering

Waka Kotahi/NZ Transport Agency has praised East Coast farmers and stock owners for their efforts to ensure fencing is safe and secure and keeping animals from wandering on to state highways.

Stock wandering on to State Highway 35 has been an ongoing concern for many years.

Since Waka Kotahi took back responsibility for managing stock on the Gisborne state highway network from Gisborne District Council in July 2020, it has recorded 587 wandering stock incidents.

National journey manager Helen Harris said while Waka Kotahi had continued to respond to a high number of incidents, she was heartened by visible improvements people had made to their fencing along the Coast highway.

“We've been talking to stock owners and have written letters to remind them of their important role in keeping motorists safe by repairing broken fences and gates to prevent animals from wandering on to the highway.

“Prior to the recent lockdown, our team took a drive along SH35 and saw that considerable effort had gone into fencing repairs or new fencing.

“We know that the flooding around Tokomaru Bay earlier in the winter took a toll on everyone so we really appreciate the effort that people have made to check for any damage to fencing after the floods.

“Animals wandering on to the highway present a significant safety risk for motorists. There is the potential for people to be seriously injured or killed so it's really important stock are kept secure.

“We thank all those farmers and stock owners who have done the right thing and made sure their fencing is strong and sturdy.”

Ms Harris also commended SH35 communities for looking after each other by alerting people to stock on the road via Facebook groups.

“People are giving SH35 drivers a heads-up about locations with stock on the road and often farmers will notice that it could be their stock so know to take action.

“However, we ask that as well as this, people still call 0800 4 HIGHWAYS first so our work crews can respond quickly and so our records accurately reflect the numbers.”

Ms Harris said Waka Kotahi would keep reminding stock owners to maintain secure fencing for their animals.

“We're still getting frequent calls to the same locations so I'm again asking those stock owners who have not yet made the necessary repairs to their fencing to please do so as soon as possible, and help keep motorists safe by ensuring animals cannot wander on to the road and into the path of vehicles.”

Under the local bylaw, stock are not permitted to graze on the state highway during hours of darkness.

“When stock are grazing on the roadside during the day, farmers are encouraged to ensure a stock manager is available to monitor the animals.”

Owners remain liable for any damage caused if their stock is wandering and can be prosecuted if animals cause a crash and negligence is proven.

Motorists should report any wandering stock by phoning 0800 4 HIGHWAYS.