Friday, December 13, 2013
By Betty Adams email@example.com
AUGUSTA — The beef over straying cows in Readfield has simmered down.
The town and the farmer have both signed a consent judgment approved Monday by Justice Michaela Murphy in Kennebec County Superior Court.
The town of Readfield sued Edward Munson (who also goes by Edwin Munson) in July, claiming his cattle continued to get loose on public roads and threaten public safety. The lawsuit asked the court to fine Munson and order the animals removed from the property.
Munson, who lives in Winthrop, near the Readfield line, said Thursday he still has more than 120 Black Angus and Hereford cattle, and things have quieted down. Attorney J. Mitchell Flick represented him and attorney Michael Hodgins represented the town.
The judgment says Munson's cattle wandered from his pastures and either crossed roads or trespassed on private property, resulting in at least eight violations of the state animal trespass law between Sept. 4, 2012, and May 26.
According to Maine statute, a civil violation occurs when "a person owns an animal or animals that have been found trespassing on five or more days within a 30-day period or three or more days within a seven-day period." The agreement also acknowledges that the Readfield animal control officer, Karen Peterson, spent more than 20 hours helping Munson round up the cattle.
The agreement includes Munson's acknowledgment of those violations and calls for fines of $250 per violation for a total of $2,000 to be paid to Readfield. Also, the town was awarded $500 for the animal control officer's time, an amount that has been paid, said Readfield Town Manager Stefan Pakulski.
Since the lawsuit was filed, Pakulski said there has been only one major incident, a breakout by 13 cattle on Aug. 16. The cattle crossed Route 17 and had to be herded back.
It was the second time the town sued Munson over wandering cattle. In the summer of 2012, Munson was assessed more than $4,500 in Augusta District Court, including fines for contempt of court for failing to comply with a court order to do an inspection of his fences accompanied by the Readfield animal control officer.
Betty Adams — 621-5631