To the editor:
Regarding Carl Myers' letter concerning the open range law, it's 2007, not 1900, which is precisely why we have the law.
In 1900 highways were few, and the only likely collision with a cow would have been while on a horse or in a wagon. But now we have highways criss-crossing most of Oregon's rangeland, which means hundreds of miles of fence. It is virtually impossible to maintain that much fence, so an occasional stray cow on the highway is to be expected. That brings us to the drivers' responsibilities.
I frequently drive between Klamath Falls and Baker City. I consider the likelihood of hitting a deer or an elk to be much greater than hitting livestock, and we all know there is no fence that will control wildlife. During my trips over those highways, I have seen only one cow hit by a vehicle. It's called defensive driving!
Comparing livestock with drunk drivers is unrealistic because we are only exposed to livestock in open range areas, but we encounter drunk drivers everywhere. If we held livestock owners responsible, the insurance would drive most prudent ranchers out of business.
Treating the liability of livestock wandering onto the highway the same as a dog attacking a person is unreasonable. Dogs are carnivores with flesh-tearing teeth, and can be trained to be aggressive. Livestock are vegetarian, and are by nature not aggressive. Their sheer numbers demand plenty of open space.
When Mr. Myers mentioned fences along streams to protect them from cattle I detected a hint of politics in his rhetoric against cattle owners and the range law.
I am not a livestock owner nor do I have any investment in livestock, other than my fondness for a good steak.
Ranchers have many problems in regard to feeding, containing and marketing, and I extend a sincere thank-you for the meat, leather goods, and dairy products they provide the rest of us.
Keep up the good work, and I will do my best to avoid hitting your critters.