SIDNEY — A Drummond Road farmer faces charges of animal trespassing because his cows and goats allegedly wander off his property and graze dangerously close to Interstate 95.

Mark Gould, 58, of 162 Drummond Road, was summoned Monday on a charge of having animals found trespassing three or more days within a seven-day period, according to Animal Control Officer Chris Martinez.

The animals also wander onto a neighbor’s property, Martinez said.

“He needs to keep his animals on his property, because he can be liable if the animals go onto I-95 or onto Drummond and somebody hits them,” Martinez said. “They can ultimately cause a fatality crash or an injury.”

The summons on Monday was the first to be issued as part of an amended law passed in April that is stricter than previous animal trespassing laws.

The new law allows a civil summons to be issued for repeated cases of animal trespass, with a fine between $50 and $500 for each violation, and adds a clause saying an animal owner may be cited if animals trespassed on five or more days within a 30-day period or three or more days within a seven -day period. The new law allows an official from the state Department of Agriculture to notify an animal owner of trespass. The previous law only allowed a law enforcement official or animal control officer to make the notification.

Gould contends the state erected a fence along I-95 to keep animals away from the road and it has fallen in disrepair and is not maintained.

“The state needs to maintain that fence for the public safety,” he said. “It’s the state’s problem and they refuse to address it.”

Martinez said Gould has one strand of electric fence about a foot inside the state fence, but the electricity is not turned on. A single electric fence wire encloses the rest of his property but is not kept on all the time, and cows can go right under it, he said.

Martinez said Gould was summoned Monday after he allegedly let his cows trespass on a neighbor’s property and his goats wander too close to the interstate.

Gould contends there are two issues involving his animals: The state is not maintaining its fence, and neighbors report his cows trespassing because they have a problem with him.

When other people’s cows get loose, neighbors call that person; but when Gould’s wander, they don’t call him, he said. A neighbor who said animals trespass on his property or the land he leases declined to comment Tuesday.

Gould said a group of cows he used to own wandered onto I-95, but his current cows do not.

“I haven’t had a cow on the interstate in years,” he said.

Martinez summonsed Gould around 12:30 p.m. Monday. Then Martinez got a call from state police reporting that goats were again close to I-95, so Martinez impounded them.

“They (goats) were on the grass,” he said. “They weren’t on the actual road, thank God. They were six feet from the road.”

Martinez captured the goats and delivered them to Gould Monday afternoon at Somerset Auctions in Fairfield, where Gould works.

The three goats stood in a pen there, looking up at Gould as he spoke.

“They could get on the interstate any day, because the fence is no good,” he said, referring to the state’s fence.

At 6:30 p .m. Monday, Martinez got another report of goats too close to I-95.

“When I got up there, I saw the goats up there on the grassy area, in the trees, grazing,” he said. “These weren’t as friendly as the ones I impounded. They scurried — ran parallel with the freeway. I chased ’em back to Mark’s property through a small hole in the fence.”

On Tuesday night, state police responded again to a report of goats near I-95, Martinez said.

“I contacted Mark and said his goats were back out on the highway, and he said, ‘I’ll go get them and get them back in,’ and that’s what he did,” he said.

Good fences

State law does not say specifically people must erect fences to contain their animals.

“The law doesn’t speak to fences,” said Matthew Randall, agricultural compliance supervisor for the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources.

“What it states is that you are supposed to have animals maintained or contained to your property. The only animals that get a free pass to that are cats.”

Gould claims the amended law regarding animal trespass was devised in response to his situation, but Randall disputes that claim. He said the intent was to strengthen the law because people were not abiding by the law as it stood.

“It was not in specific response to Mark,” Randall said. “It’s for any individual who doesn’t mend their fences and look after their animals.”

Randall also said the fence the state erected along I-95 was not built to contain farmers’ animals, but to prevent wildlife from entering the road. Gould’s animals are his responsibility, according to Randall.

“Many farmers either will build their own fence and/or maintain the state’s fence for their own usage,” he said.

Randall said the state understands that anyone who has livestock runs the risk of having them leave the property.

“But it’s the frequency that causes the greater liability, and that’s what this comes down to — responsibility and liability.”

If a person’s animals get out three times in one day, that’s too high a frequency, increasing the chances that the animal or a human may be killed or injured, he said.

Randall said he does not have statistics about injuries or deaths as a result of livestock wandering onto the highway.

Kathleen Ross was the Sidney animal control officer for nearly five years until November 2010, when she left to become Augusta’s full-time animal control officer.

While working for Sidney, she dealt with Gould’s cows many times, starting with her first call in the middle of the night, when she found several of his cows on I-95 and several on Drummond Road, she said.

Ross said she worked with the state Department of Agriculture, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Animal Welfare, trying to get animal trespass law strengthened.

“I was terrified that somebody was going to hit one of these animals on Drummond Road or on the interstate,” she said. “I was extremely happy when the Department of Agriculture was able to get something in place this spring. This (Gould’s case) is going to go to court. I’m anxious to see how it turns out.”

Gould maintains that any animal can get over a fence if it wants to — that fences really don’t ensure containment. He also says animals will not typically walk onto pavement because it offers no grass to eat.

He also said he has no control over certain situations.

“In the past, I’ve had moose chase ’em (cows) out,” he said.

Gould, who has about 40 cows and several goats, plans to represent himself when he answers to the summons at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 6 in Waterville District Court. He said he plans to plead not guilty to animal trespassing but declined to elaborate on his defense.

He is insistent, however, that the state is responsible for keeping the interstate safe, and that includes making sure animals do not get on it.

“I consider the interstate’s fence as much a safety device as the yellow line in the road,” he said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

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