Wandering Ducks

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Attila the Bun
Posts: 11
Joined: Fri Apr 15, 2005 1:21 pm

Wandering Ducks

Post by Attila the Bun » Sat Jun 11, 2005 5:36 pm

Hi,

I have a problem with a new neighbour who is complaining that my ducks are wandering behind her cottage and today she threatened to kill them. Am I required by law to fence my ducks in? They are flighted birds so I don''t really see how I'm supposed to - also I can't fence anything at all at the moment as there is a dispute over the piece of land where the duckpond is (about which I have posted in a different forum here).

Ducks have been at this farm for over 500 years and the neighbour knew they were here and roamed freely before she purchased her property.

Any advice would be welcome as I don't want to end up with an ASBO!

Countryman
Posts: 131
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 9:02 pm

Post by Countryman » Sat Jun 11, 2005 10:10 pm

Hi Attila,

I can perhaps offer indicators as to your responsibility.

Domestic ducks are termed 'livestock' and you being the owner are responsible for them.

There is an offence in law concerning dogs worrying livestock on agricultural land. A defence to this is where the livestock are trespassing on another persons land and the dog of the landowner (whose land is being trespassed on) attacks the livestock, but the landowner must not have caused the attack. This means the law has some consideration for a landowner/dog owner where straying livestock trespasses in the circumstances explained.

My interpretation of your situation is that your ducks are domestic poultry (livestock) and you are clearly responsible for them. Why should other people have to put up with them roaming on their land causing nuisance? Cattle are also livestock, would you expect your neighbour to put up with cattle going over her garden? You should control your DOMESTIC ducks.

My sympathy is with your neighbour but other members may have a different viewpoint.

Your neighbour is not entitled to harm your ducks, in law they constitute 'property' and harming them would be 'criminal damage' believe it or not.

Hope you can sort it in a neighbourly way

Countryman

Attila the Bun
Posts: 11
Joined: Fri Apr 15, 2005 1:21 pm

Re. Wandering Ducks

Post by Attila the Bun » Sat Jun 11, 2005 11:05 pm

Thanks for the prompt reply and clarification of the law in this area Countryman, it's very much appreciated! :D

Unfortunately the trouble with my neighbour began some months ago when her dog began to repeatedly attack my ducks on MY land, because she refused point blank to put it on a lead when she crossed it. She was/is always aggressive and abusive when asked to do so. I think this fact caused her to get so wound up today, because on the last occasion, when her dog pulled tailfeathers from a duck, again on my land, not hers, I threatened her with the police the next time it happened out of sheer desperation. :cry:

The ducks wander only very rarely around the back of her cottage (this, today, is the first and only complaint that I have ever received from her, but it was so violently expressed that it worried me, which is why I posted about it) and technically they aren't actually on HER land even then as I own the strip she is speaking of, which runs around the back of her dwelling(!) She has a tiny square of land at the back of her cottage, upon which she has recently built a conservatory to within a few inches of her boundary, so there is only a few inches left for a duck to set foot on that belong to her:? The problem is caused by her letting her dog run freely on what is really and truly a public place the moment she steps out of her back door. She has not really left herself the space to fence her own dog in so I do not know how this issue will be resolved.

I do not wish my ducks to cause any problems to anyone, and would certainly consider fencing to resolve future issues, I appreciate what you said about that and would agree with it, but ironically, where I would have to fence would annoy that same neighbour even more because of the aforementioned land dispute!!! :shock:

Countryman
Posts: 131
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 9:02 pm

Post by Countryman » Sun Jun 12, 2005 12:16 am

Hi Attila,

In my view you should control (fence) your ducks Then if your neighbours dog gets into the fenced area you are in a strong position to make complaint to the police concerning 'Dangerous Dog' attacking livestock.

I appreciate from your other post that you have problem with the 'Tennants in Common' issue and your claim of trespass. I claim no specialist knowledge concerning this issue but I do have an opinion.
My wife and I were 'Tennants in Common' at both our last two homes (and would have been at our current address if the solicitor had done as requested - fortunately it is easy to change from 'Joint Tennants' to 'Tennants in Common').
In our previous situations as 'Tennants in Common' we both owned a half share in the property such that if one of us died then that share would not transfer to the survivor (as it would in Joint Tenants) but would have gone to persons stipulated in our wills. This arrangement did not mean that both of us needed to be present to eject a trespasser. Either of us could have done it individually - we both owned that piece of land but in equal SHARES.
My opinion re your problem is that unless the other tennant in common HAS given permission to your neighbour to access your land then YOU have the right as an owner to notify her she is trespassing on YOUR land.

Hope you get it all resolved so you can enjoy your home.

Best wishes

Countryman

Attila the Bun
Posts: 11
Joined: Fri Apr 15, 2005 1:21 pm

Post by Attila the Bun » Fri Jun 24, 2005 1:49 am

Hi Countryman,

Sorry to take so long to get back to you. I have decided to give all my ducks, but for three, to a friend of mine who has a large pond, plenty of land and will love them to bits. I am considering fencing the courtyard to keep the other three safe when the other legal dispute is settled. Although it would actually be a lot cheaper if I paid for the neighbour's little piece of land to have a dog/duck-proof fence put around it :?

Yes I agree with you about the tenant in common issue. My solicitor thinks differently, but I believe he is wrong :roll: Anyway, I don't want to say anything now about the other tenant in common until the sale of the other half of the land goes through in case she gets in touch with him and gazumps me!!!! :shock:

I told a friend of mine about what you had told me about the law governing my ducks and she has asked me to ask you if she is liable for any damage caused by her chickens that wander onto the highway? We had both thought previously that as we lived on former farms in a rural area that there was some precedent for poultry being free-range!! :o

Many thanks for your help.

Countryman
Posts: 131
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 9:02 pm

Post by Countryman » Fri Jun 24, 2005 11:20 pm

Hi Attila,

There is Section under The Highways Act 1980 (Section 155) which specifically makes it an offence re Animals straying on the Highway. This certainly relates to Horses, Cattle, Sheep, Goats and Swine but some Police Force web sights add 'etc' to the list. I did not think that it included domestic fowl which are classed as 'Livestock' but I'm not 100% on this.
There is certainly an exemption under the above act re 'Animals' straying on highways which run through 'common land' and there are certain other exemptions as well (but notices are usually displayed for motorists in these circumstances warning of the danger - or you drive over cattle grids).
I think that you (and your friend with the chickens) need to be aware that the owner of Domestic Fowl (Livestock) are responsible for any damage caused by the trespassing of the livestock. Some laws of our nation are seemingly never implemented UNTIL something goes SERIOUSLY wrong. There is then of course two lines of possible prosecution if offences are committed; civil and criminal. You need to ensure that you dont leave yourself open to ANY prosecution because of negligence.
For example take the straying chickens on the Highway situation - I don't think the 1980 Highways Act (S155) applies (but I'm not 100% sure) however if a serious road accident did occur because of straying chickens on the highway and their owner KNOWINGLY allowed them to stray would this amount to an offence re 'Wilful Obstruction of the Highway'? - a totally different offence and open to interpretation. There would likely be a big civil law case as well. I know of a local farm which has 'free range' chickens and they certainly roam but within a large fenced field and create no danger to anyone - sensible!

Interestingly I have heard of a number of wild chickens that do feed on the verges and centre island of a roundabout on a main road (Norfolk / Suffolk border area) and the local council I believe looked at removing them - the locals wanted them to stay and the chickens are still there - I think they have good road sense too!!

Other forum members may have a different interpretation of the laws. If you need expert advice re this subject you would need to speak to a solicitor. The 'Law' should be straight forward - but it rarely is.......

All the best

Countryman

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