Article 1. Lawful Fences. [Repealed]
§§ 68-1, 68-2. [Repealed]
Repealed by Session Laws 1969, c. 691.
§§ 68-3, 68-4. [Repealed]
Repealed by Session Laws 1971, c. 741, s. 2.
§ 68-5. [Repealed]
Repealed by Session Laws 1969, c. 619.
Article 2. Division Fences. [Repealed]
§§ 68-6 through 68-14. [Repealed]
Repealed by Session Laws 1971, c. 741, s. 2.
Article 3. Livestock Law.
§ 68-15. Term “livestock” defined.
The word “livestock” in this Chapter shall include, but shall not be limited to, equine animals, bovine animals, sheep, goats, llamas, and swine.
History. Code, s. 2822; Rev., s. 1681; C.S., s. 1841; 1971, c. 741, s. 1; 1997-84, s. 2.
As to the intent of the General Assembly that llamas be treated as domesticated livestock in order to promote the development and improvement of the llama industry in the State, see G.S. 106-22.4 .
A dog is not “stock” within the meaning of the section, but nevertheless subject to larceny. Meekins v. Simpson, 176 N.C. 130 , 96 S.E. 894, 1918 N.C. LEXIS 202 (1918) (decided prior to revision of this Article by Session Laws 1971, c. 741) .
§ 68-16. Allowing livestock to run at large forbidden.
If any person shall allow his livestock to run at large, he shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.
History. Code, s. 2811; 1889, c. 504; Rev., s. 3319; C.S., s. 1849; 1971, c. 741, s. 1; 1993, c. 539, s. 536; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c).
Duty to Restrain Stock. —
This section imposes upon all persons the statutory duty of restraining their stock from running at large. McCoy v. Tillman, 224 N.C. 201 , 29 S.E.2d 683, 1944 N.C. LEXIS 333 (1944).
The person having charge of an animal is under the legal duty to exercise the ordinary care and foresight of a reasonably prudent person in keeping the animal in restraint. Sutton v. Duke, 7 N.C. App. 100, 171 S.E.2d 343, 1969 N.C. App. LEXIS 1124 (1969), aff'd, 277 N.C. 94 , 176 S.E.2d 161, 1970 N.C. LEXIS 510 (1970).
Implicit Civil Responsibility as Tort-Feasor If Section Violated. —
See Kelly v. Willis, 238 N.C. 637 , 78 S.E.2d 711, 1953 N.C. LEXIS 594 (1953).
This section implies knowledge, consent or willingness on the part of the owner that the animals be at large, or negligence equivalent thereto, and the mere fact that animals are at large does not raise the presumption that the owner permits them to run at large, nor does the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur apply upon the establishment of the facts that animals are found at large. Gardner v. Black, 217 N.C. 573 , 9 S.E.2d 10, 1940 N.C. LEXIS 294 (1940).
Liability of Animal’s Keeper Rests on Question of Negligence. —
The keeper of a pony, mule or other animal is liable under this section for negligently permitting such animal to escape and go upon public highways in the event it does damage to travelers or others lawfully thereon. The liability of the keeper rests upon the question of whether the keeper is guilty of negligence in permitting such animal to escape. The same rules as to what is or is not negligence in ordinary situations apply. Sutton v. Duke, 7 N.C. App. 100, 171 S.E.2d 343, 1969 N.C. App. LEXIS 1124 (1969), aff'd, 277 N.C. 94 , 176 S.E.2d 161, 1970 N.C. LEXIS 510 (1970).
That an owner knowingly or negligently allowed his mule to run at large on the highway may be inferred from the fact that the mule repeatedly ran loose thereon. Kelly v. Willis, 238 N.C. 637 , 78 S.E.2d 711, 1953 N.C. LEXIS 594 (1953).
§ 68-17. Impounding livestock at large; right to recover costs and damages; abandoned livestock.
- Any person may take up any livestock running at large or straying and impound the same; and such impounder may recover from the owner the reasonable costs of impounding and maintaining the livestock as well as damages to the impounder caused by such livestock, and may retain the livestock, with the right to use with proper care until such recovery is had. Reasonable costs of impounding shall include any fees paid pursuant to G.S. 68-18.1 in order to locate the owner.
- Livestock is deemed to be abandoned when (i) it is placed in the custody of any other person for treatment, boarding, or care; (ii) the owner of the livestock does not retake custody of the animal within two months after the last day the owner paid a fee to the custodian for the treatment, boarding, or care of the livestock; and (iii) the custodian has made reasonable attempts to collect any past-due fees during the two-month period. If, after the end of the two-month period, the custodian of the abandoned livestock has been unsuccessful in collecting the past-due fees and the owner of the livestock has not retaken custody of the livestock, the custodian may sell or transfer the livestock by executing an affidavit that identifies the buyer or transferee of the livestock and certifies compliance with the criteria and requirements of this subsection. If the custodian is unable to sell or transfer the livestock, the custodian may, but shall not be required to, otherwise humanely dispose of the abandoned livestock. A custodian shall provide written notice of the provisions of this subsection in conspicuous type to the owner of livestock at the time the livestock is delivered for treatment, boarding, or care as follows: “Pursuant to N.C. General Statutes § 68-17(b), the owner of this facility is entitled to sell, transfer, or otherwise humanely dispose of any livestock abandoned at this facility.”
History. Code, s. 2186; Rev., s. 1679; C.S., s. 1850; 1951, c. 569; 1971, c. 741, s. 1; 1991, c. 472, s. 3; 2017-108, s. 4.
As to pursuit or injury to livestock with intent to steal, see G.S. 14-85 .
Effect of Amendments.
Session Laws 2017-108, s. 4., effective July 12, 2017, added “abandoned livestock” at the end of the section heading; designated the existing provisions as subsection (a); and added subsection (b).
Not Applicable to Stock Under Control. —
This section does not authorize the taking up and impounding of livestock unless running at large, and does not apply to cows securely tied to trees under the immediate control of the owner with the permission of the lessee of the land, and it is forcible trespass to take them away over the protest of the owner, to prevent which the owner may use all necessary force, unless the taking is by appropriate legal proceedings. Kirkpatrick v. Crutchfield, 178 N.C. 348 , 100 S.E. 602, 1919 N.C. LEXIS 457 (1919). See also State v. Hunter, 118 N.C. 1196 , 24 S.E. 708, 1896 N.C. LEXIS 195 (1896).
When and by Whom Stock May Be Impounded. —
All persons are under the statutory duty of restraining their livestock from running at large, and when out of the pasture such stock are at large and subject to be taken up and impounded by any person, even though they are at large as a result of the negligence of the person who so impounds them, where the owner has knowledge of their being at large and neglects to restrain them. McCoy v. Tillman, 224 N.C. 201 , 29 S.E.2d 683, 1944 N.C. LEXIS 333 (1944).
Liability for Killing Strays. —
Under this section one has the power to take up a stray, and the law requires that he do so in preference to killing or injuring it. If he wantonly kills such a stray, he is guilty of a misdemeanor. State v. Brigman, 94 N.C. 888 , 1886 N.C. LEXIS 162 (1886). See G.S. 14-366 .
§ 68-18. Notice and demand when owner known.
If the owner of impounded livestock is or becomes known to the impounder, actual notice of the whereabouts of the impounded livestock must be immediately given to the owner and the impounder must then make demand upon the owner of the livestock for the costs of impoundment and the damages to the impounder, if any, caused by such livestock.
History. Code, s. 2817; Rev., s. 1680; C.S., s. 1851; 1971, c. 741, s. 1.
§ 68-18.1. Notice when owner not known.
If the owner of the impounded livestock is not known or cannot be found, the impounder shall inform the sheriff of the county in which the livestock was found of the impoundment, giving a full description of the livestock impounded, including all marks or brands on the livestock, and shall state when and where the animal was taken up.
History. 1874-5, c. 258, s. 2; Code, s. 3768; Rev., s. 2833; C.S., s. 3951; 1991, c. 472, s. 2; 2012-18, s. 1.10.
As to license to look for strays upon the lands of another, see G.S. 14-159.12 and G.S. 14-159.13 .
As to fences and stock law, see Chapter 68.
Effect of Amendments.
Session Laws 2012-18, s. 1.10, effective July 1, 2012, rewrote the section.
§ 68-19. Determination of damages by selected landowners or by referee.
If the owner and impounder cannot agree as to the cost of impounding and maintaining such livestock, as well as damages to the impounder caused by such livestock running at large, then such costs and damages shall be determined by three disinterested landowners, one to be selected by the owner of the livestock, one to be selected by the impounder and a third to be selected by the first two. If within 10 days a majority of the landowners so selected cannot agree, or if the owner of the livestock or the impounder fails to make his selection, or if the two selected fail to select a third, then the clerk of superior court of the county where the livestock is impounded shall select a referee. The determination of such costs and damages by the landowners or by the referee shall be final.
History. Code, s. 2186; Rev., s. 1679; C.S., s. 1850; 1951, c. 569; 1971, c. 741, s. 1.
§ 68-20. Notice of sale and sale where owner fails to redeem or is unknown; application of proceeds.
If the owner fails to redeem his livestock within three days after the notice and demand as provided in G.S. 68-18 is received or within three days after the determination of the costs and damages as provided in G.S. 68-19 , the impounder shall notify the local Sheriff’s office and the Sheriff shall post a notice fully describing the livestock and stating the place, date, and hour of sale on the Web site of the Sheriff’s office. After 10 days from such posting, the impounder shall sell the livestock at public auction. If the owner of the livestock remains unknown to the impounder, then, three days after publication of the notice required by G.S. 68-18.1 , the impounder shall notify the local Sheriff’s office and the Sheriff shall post a notice fully describing the livestock and stating the place, date, and hour of sale on the Web site of the Sheriff’s office. After 10 days from such posting, the impounder shall sell the livestock at public auction. The proceeds of any such public sale shall be applied to pay the reasonable costs of impounding and maintaining the livestock and the damages to the impounder caused by the livestock. Reasonable costs of impounding shall include any fees paid pursuant to G.S. 68-18.1 in an attempt to locate the owner of the livestock. The balance, if any, shall be paid to the owner of the livestock, if known, or, if the owner is not known, then to the school fund of the county where the livestock was impounded.
History. Code, s. 2817; Rev., s. 1680; C.S., s. 1851; 1971, c. 741, s. 1; 1991, c. 472, s. 4; 2015-263, s. 24(a); 2021-182, s. 3(g).
Effect of Amendments.
Session Laws 2015-263, s. 24(a), effective September 30, 2015, and applicable to livestock impounded on or after that date, rewrote the section.
Session Laws 2021-182, s. 3(g), effective November 18, 2021, substituted “office” for “department” at the end of the first and third sentences.
When Owner May Not Complain. —
Where a party lawfully impounds a sow, sells same under provisions of a recorder’s judgment, and pays himself his lawful fees for impounding the sow and his damages caused by the sow, and pays to the owner the amount due him out of the purchase price, the owner may not complain. Beasley v. Edwards, 211 N.C. 393 , 190 S.E. 221, 1937 N.C. LEXIS 102 (1937).
§ 68-21. Illegally releasing or receiving impounded livestock misdemeanor.
If any person willfully releases any lawfully impounded livestock without the permission of the impounder or receives such livestock knowing that it was unlawfully released, he shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.
History. Code, s. 2819; 1889, c. 504; Rev., s. 3310; C.S., s. 1853; 1971, c. 741, s. 1; 1993, c. 539, s. 537; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c).
§ 68-22. Impounded livestock to be fed and watered.
If any person shall impound or cause to be impounded any livestock and shall fail to supply to the livestock during the confinement a reasonably adequate quantity of good and wholesome feed and water, he shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.
History. 1881, c. 368, s. 3; Code, s. 2484; 1891, c. 65; Rev., s. 3311; C.S., s. 1854; 1971, c. 741, s. 1; 1993, c. 539, s. 538; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c).
§ 68-23. Right to feed impounded livestock; owner liable.
When any livestock is impounded under the provisions of this Chapter and remains without reasonably adequate feed and water for more than 24 hours, any person may lawfully enter the area of impoundment to supply the livestock with feed and water. Such person shall not be liable in trespass for such entry and may recover of the owner or, if the owner is unknown, of the impounder of the livestock, the reasonable costs of the feed and water.
History. 1881, c. 368, s. 4; Code, s. 2485; Rev., s. 1682; C.S., s. 1855; 1971, c. 741, s. 1.
The difference between an impounding fee and a charge for food is recognized by the law. Former G.S. 68-24 (see now G.S. 68-17 and G.S. 68-19 ) prescribed the impounding fees for taking up stock running at large, and this section prescribes for payment for feeding such stock when taken up. The former fees go to the officer or the town or county, and the latter is a humane provision without which the stock might suffer for want of food and water. Bown v. Town of Williamston, 171 N.C. 57 , 87 S.E. 959, 1916 N.C. LEXIS 10 (1916).
§ 68-24. Penalties for violation of this Article.
A violation of G.S. 68-16 , 68-21 or 68-22 is a Class 3 misdemeanor.
History. 1971, c. 741, s. 1; 1993, c. 539, s. 539; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c).
§ 68-25. Domestic fowls running at large after notice.
- If any person shall permit any turkeys, geese, chickens, ducks or other domestic fowls to run at large on the lands of any other person while such lands are under cultivation in any kind of grain or feedstuff or while being used for gardens or ornamental purposes, after having received actual or constructive notice of such running at large, the person is guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.
- If any person permits any domestic fowls to run at large on the lands of a commercial poultry operation of any other person after having received actual or constructive notice of such running at large, the person is guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor. For purposes of this subsection, a commercial poultry operation means any premises or operation where domestic poultry are fed, caged, housed, or otherwise kept for meat or egg production until sold or marketed.
- If it shall appear to any magistrate that after three days’ notice any person persists in allowing his fowls to run at large in violation of this section and fails or refuses to keep them upon his own premises, then the said magistrate may, in his discretion, order any sheriff or other officer to kill the fowls when they are running at large as herein provided.
(b1) Repealed by Session Laws 2011-412, s. 3.1, effective October 15, 2011.
History. C.S., s. 1864; 1971, c. 741, s. 1; 1993, c. 539, s. 540; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c); 2011-313, s. 1; 2011-412, s. 3.1.
Effect of Amendments.
Session Laws 2011-412, s. 3.1, effective October 15, 2011, repealed subsection (b1) as enacted by Session Laws 2011-385.
§§ 68-26 through 68-41. [Repealed]
Repealed by Session Laws 1971, c. 741, s. 2.
Article 4. Stock along the Outer Banks.
§ 68-42. Stock running at large prohibited; certain ponies excepted.
From and after July 1, 1958, it shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to allow his or its horses, cattle, goats, sheep, or hogs to run free or at large along the outer banks of this State. This Article shall not apply to horses known as marsh ponies or banks ponies on Ocracoke Island, Hyde County. This Article shall not apply to horses known as marsh ponies or banks ponies on Shackleford Banks between Beaufort Inlet and Barden’s Inlet in Carteret County. Saving and excepting those animals known as “banker ponies” on the island of Ocracoke owned by the Boy Scouts and not exceeding 35 in number.
History. 1957, c. 1057, s. 1; 1997-456, s. 9.
For article on local legislation in the General Assembly, discussing Chadwick v. Salter, 254 N.C. 389 , 119 S.E.2d 158 (1961), see 45 N.C.L. Rev. 340 (1967).
In an action instituted to enjoin a sheriff from removing plaintiffs’ cattle from Shackleford Banks, it was held that plaintiffs were not entitled to challenge the constitutionality of this Article, since it does not purport to authorize the destruction or removal of cattle from any portion of the outer banks, but provides for enforcement of its provisions solely by criminal prosecution, and plaintiffs would be entitled to attack the constitutionality of that statute only as a defense to a criminal prosecution thereunder. Chadwick v. Salter, 254 N.C. 389 , 119 S.E.2d 158, 1961 N.C. LEXIS 458 (1961).
§ 68-43. Authority of Secretary of Environmental Quality to remove or confine ponies on Ocracoke Island and Shackleford Banks.
Notwithstanding any other provisions of this Article, the Secretary of Environmental Quality shall have authority to remove or cause to be removed from Ocracoke Island and Shackleford Banks all ponies known as banks ponies or marsh ponies if and when he determines that such action is essential to prevent damage to the island. In the event such a determination is made, the Secretary, in lieu of removing all ponies, may require that they be restricted to a certain area or corralled so as to prevent damage to the island. In the event such action is taken, the Secretary is authorized to take such steps and act through his duly designated employees or such other persons as, in his opinion, he deems necessary and he may accept any assistance provided by or through the National Park Service.
History. 1957, c. 1057, s. 11/2; 1973, c. 1262, s. 86; 1977, c. 771, s. 4; 1989, c. 727, s. 218(10); 1997-443, s. 11A.119(a); 1997-456, s. 10; 2015-241, s. 14.30(v).
Effect of Amendments.
Session Laws 2015-241, s. 14.30(v), effective July 1, 2015, substituted “Secretary of Environmental Quality” for “Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources” wherever it appears.
§ 68-44. Penalty for violation of G.S. 68-42.
Any person, firm or corporation violating the provisions of G.S. 68-42 shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.
History. 1957, c. 1057, s. 2; 1993, c. 539, s. 541; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c).
§ 68-45. Impounding stock.
The provisions of G.S. 68-24 to 68-30, relative to the impounding of stock running at large shall apply with equal force and effect along the outer banks of this State.
History. 1957, c. 1057, s. 3.
The reference to G.S. 68-24 to 68-30 above is to sections existing prior to the revision of Article 3 by Session Laws 1971, c. 741. For present provisions as to the impounding of stock running at large, see G.S. 68-17 through 68-23.
§ 68-46. “Outer banks of this State” defined.
For the purposes of this Article, the terms “outer banks of this State” shall be construed to mean all of that part of North Carolina which is separated from the mainland by a body of water, such as an inlet or sound, and which is in part bounded by the Atlantic Ocean.
History. 1957, c. 1057, s. 4.