What does “open range law” mean to me and my property? Does the property have year-round access? Do I have the right to fence in my property?

If your Nevada property is located outside of city limits is like to be in the open range district, where cattle may roam and graze on public lands allotments. In order to prevent cattle to trespass onto your property, you as the property owner, are responsible to fence your property with a “legal” fence. At the least you would want to fence the areas you may be concerned about such as home area, garden and lawn. Below are the Nevada Livestock Laws that may affect you and/or your property.

568.355. “Open range” defined

As used in NRS 568.360 and 568.370, unless the context otherwise requires, “open range” means all unenclosed land outside of cities and towns upon which cattle, sheep or other domestic animals by custom, license, lease or permit are grazed or permitted to roam.

568.360. Duties of owners of domestic animals with respect to domestic animals upon the highway

  1. No person, firm or corporation owning, controlling or in possession of any domestic animal running on open range has the duty to keep the animal off any highway traversing or located on the open range, and no such person, firm or corporation is liable for damages to any property or for injury to any person caused by any collision between a motor vehicle and the animal occurring on such a highway.
  2. Any person, firm or corporation negligently allowing a domestic animal to enter within a fenced right of way of a highway is liable for damages caused by a collision between a motor vehicle and the animal occurring on the highway.

568.370. Permitting dog to chase, worry, injure or kill domestic animals on open range or private property unlawful

  1. It is unlawful for any person to permit a dog to chase, worry, injure or kill cattle, sheep or other domestic animals on the open range or on private property.
  2. Subsection 1 does not apply to the use of a dog to herd domestic animals at the direction or with the permission of the owner of those animals.
  3. Any person who violates the provisions of subsection 1 is guilty of a misdemeanor.

569.431. “Legal fence” defined

As used in NRS 569.440 to 569.471, inclusive, “legal fence” means a fence with not less than four horizontal barriers, consisting of wires, boards, poles or other fence material in common use in the neighborhood, with posts set not more that 20 feet apart. The lower barrier must be not more than 12 inches from the ground and the space between any two barriers must be not more that 12 inches and the height of top barrier must be at least 48 inches above the ground. Every post must be so set as to withstand a horizontal strain of 250 pounds at a point 4 feet from the ground, and each barrier must be capable of withstanding a horizontal strain of 250 pounds at any point midway between the posts.

569.440. Liability caused by trespassing livestock; liability of landowner for injury to trespassing livestock; trespassing livestock treated as estrays

  1. Except as otherwise provided in NRS 569.461 and 569.471:

(a) If any livestock break into any grounds enclosed by a legal fence, the owner or manager of the livestock is liable to the owner of the enclosed premises for all damages sustained by the trespass. If the trespass is repeated by neglect of the owner or manager of the livestock, he is for the second and every subsequent offense or trespass, liable for double the damages of the trespass to the owner of the premises.

(b) If any owner or occupier of any grounds or crops trespassed upon by livestock entering upon or breaking into his grounds, whether enclosed by a legal fence or not, kills, maims or materially injures the livestock so trespassing, he is liable to the owner of the livestock for all damages, and for the costs accruing from a suit for such damages, when necessarily resorted to for their recovery.

(c) The owner or occupier of grounds or crops so damaged and trespassed upon may take up and safely keep, at the expense of the owner or owners thereof, after due notice to the owners, if known, the livestock, or so many of them as may be necessary to cover the damages he may have sustained, for 10 days, and if not applied for by the proper owner or owners before the expiration of 10 days, the livestock may be posted under the estray laws of the state, and before restitution may be had by the owner or owners of the livestock, all damages done by them, as well also as the expense of posting and keeping them, must be paid. Any justice of the peace in the township has jurisdiction of all such reclamation of livestock, together with the damages, and expense of keeping and posting the same, when the amount claimed does not exceed $2,500.

  1. When two or more persons cultivate lands under one enclosure, neither of them may place or cause to be placed any livestock on his ground, to the injury or damage of the other or others, but is liable for all damages thus sustained by the other or others. If repeated, after due notice is given, and for every subsequent repetition, double damages are recoverable in any court having jurisdiction.

569.450. Trespass on cultivated land: No award of damages unless land enclosed by legal fence

No person is entitled to collect damages, and no court in this state may award damages, for any trespass of livestock on cultivated land in this state if the land, at the time of the trespass was not enclosed by a legal fence.

569.461. Liability of developer of residential, commercial or industrial structure adjoining pasture for damages to legal fence

  1. When a residential, commercial, or industrial structure is erected, or any other commercial or industrial activity is undertaken, on land adjoining a pasture and separated from the pasture by a legal fence, the developer of the structure or the person undertaking the activity, unless he makes the election permitted by NRS 569.471, shall repair any damage to the fence caused by or related to the erection of the structure, the associated development of the land or the activity undertaken. The developer or person undertaking the activity is liable for any damage done by any livestock which stray from the pasture through the damaged portion of the fence for which he is responsible, and to the owner of the livestock for any loss suffered as a result of their straying and for the loss accruing from a suit for any such damages when necessarily resorted to for their recovery.

2. For the purposes of this section, a structure is erected on land adjoining a pasture if the land on which it is erected and land adjoining the pasture are owned by the same person directly or through an affiliate, even though the area may be divided into lots, and if the site of the construction is within one-fourth of a mile of the pasture.