AN elderly man’s beloved pet cow was struck and killed on a Far North highway after rogue cattle destroyed a barbed wire fence to his property to get at a tub of molasses.
But things got even worse for Tablelands man Bruce Ferguson after he was ordered to pay nearly $3000 over his cow’s death.
Mr Ferguson has lived on rural acreage near Koah for 32 years and was the owner of two Friesian cross cows that he considered pets.
They were described as “very docile” and “big sooks” that would eat out of a bucket of molasses, which he fed them daily.
On May 12, 2016, in the evening, feral cattle broke into their enclosed paddock through a wire gate.
Hearing the ruckus Mr Ferguson went outside and saw the wild cattle eating the molasses, which was in the spot where the gate had been knocked down.
As he approached the stray cattle fled back through the broken fence taking his pets with them.
One of his cows then wandered onto the Kennedy Hwy, near Koah Rd, where it was struck and killed by a passing car about 100 metres away.
As a result Mr Ferguson was prosecuted by the Mareeba Shire Council and found guilty by a magistrate of failing to ensure his cattle were not wandering at large. He was fined $500, ordered to pay $2342.90 costs and no conviction was recorded.
The 68-year-old appealed the case in the Cairns District Court and the decision was overturned and a finding of not guilty ordered by Judge Tracy Fantin.
“Was (Mr Ferguson) required to maintain a fence that not only kept his two cows in, but also kept rogue beasts out?” Ms Fantin said in a recent judgment.
She concluded that the pet cows would not have escaped had the feral cattle not broken into the paddock.
“I find that the… animals escaped not because he failed to maintain a proper enclosure for them but because feral cattle broke down the enclosure,” Judge Fantin said, adding that Mr Ferguson could not have prevented the escape.
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