RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) - A neighborhood nestled next to the 70,000-acre King Ranch has abit of an issue. Sometimes, ranch cattle wander into the NorthernMeadows subdivision. At first, it was a nuisance. Now, it's turneddangerous.
Footage from 2002 shows groups of cattle meandering around thestreets, eating neighborhood landscaping and defecating in thestreets. It was not until recently that the cattle turned into apublic safety issue.
The pickup truck Helen Breland used to haul supplies for herbusiness was severely damaged after hitting a cow in January 2010.Breland's brother borrowed the truck that night, when he "struck acow" at the intersection of 10th Street and 28th Avenue,
"It was believed the cow belonged to the King Ranch," said thereport.
However, they could not find the cow.
"They [didn't] know if the cow lied down and died at thatpoint," said Breland.
Eventually, the ranch foreman called and said the cow involvedin the crash was found dead. That was the last time Breland heardfrom anyone at the ranch about the crash or the cow that causedit.
"I would like to have my truck fixed, taken care of orsomething," said Breland.
The ranch is partly owned by Donald King, brother of former NewMexico Governor Bruce King. King said there really is nothing thathe can do to help. Controlling cattle in an area as large as KingRanch is not an easy task. Ranch workers have taken numerousmeasures to push the cows back and keep them on ranch property.But, trespassers often cut the fence, said King.
State law favors cattle owners when it comes to issues like thisone, because New Mexico is a fence-out state. That means ifproperty owners want to keep away wandering livestock, it is up tothe owners to fence them out.
"By statute, there's no responsibility placed on the owners oflivestock," said Myles Culbertson, executive director of the NewMexico Livestock Board.
However, in the case of the Rio Rancho neighborhood, it is thecity's job to control the cattle.
"We know that people cut through the land all the time on ATVsand 4-wheelers and what-not and cut the fence lines," said RioRancho police officer John Francis. "Since 2007, we've had five orsix incidents with cows actually being in the Northern Meadowsarea."
In the meantime, Breland is grateful no one was hurt in theJanuary crash of her pickup truck. She is still frustrated with thesituation, hoping it does not happen again. The King Ranch has notresponded to her phone calls regarding her repair bill.
"I'll be honest, I'm a little nervous," said Breland. "It's likewe're screaming into the wind and nobody can hear us."
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