§ 7700 Definitions.
As used in this chapter:
(1) "Agent of the department" means a person who acts on behalf of the Department to carry out its activities.
(2) "At large" means livestock that strays from confinement or restraint and from the property of the owner including livestock that strays into a confined area that is owned by a person other than the owner of the livestock.
(3) "Department" means the Department of Agriculture.
(4) "Livestock" means domesticated species including: bovine, camelid, cervid, equine, swine, ruminants, ratites, rabbits, poultry, and other animals harvested for food, fiber, fur, or leather.
(5) "Unenclosed lands" means lands, other than the livestock owner's property, where the livestock would be able to run loose, free of confinement, or otherwise unrestrained by the livestock owner.
§ 7701 Permitting livestock to run at large; civil penalty.
(a) It is unlawful to allow livestock to run at large, on the public highways, or on unenclosed lands within the State.
(b) The Secretary of Agriculture may impose a civil penalty of not less than $50 or more than $100 for each offense on any person owning livestock found to have run at large, on the public highways, or on unenclosed land within the State. For each subsequent offense occurring within 12 months of a prior offense, the person is subject to a civil penalty not less than $100 or more than $200 for each offense. The minimum civil penalty for a subsequent offense may not be subject to suspension.
(c) No civil penalty shall be assessed unless the person charged has been given notice and opportunity for a hearing on each charge under Chapter 101 of Title 29.
(d) All civil penalties collected under this chapter must be remitted to the Department or other assigned agency.
§ 7702 Taking up and impounding livestock at large.
(a) Any person or agent of the Department may take up any livestock found running at large, upon the public highways, or on unenclosed lands within this State and impound the same. Such person or agent of the Department may demand and receive a reasonable sum for the impoundment, care, and feeding of the livestock while in such person's care. The care and shelter provided shall be humane and shall be adequate for the size and class of livestock impounded. The State Veterinarian will be responsible for determining if the livestock are being housed and fed properly as well as determining a fair and reasonable cost for impoundment, care, and feeding per day.
(b) The person or agent of the Department taking up and impounding the livestock shall forthwith give written notice of the taking up and impounding to the owner thereof, if known, or by leaving the notice with an adult person at the owner's or their usual place of abode; or, if unknown, shall place a notice of 3 days' duration in at least 2 forms of media, including 1 print, adequately describing the livestock and giving an accurate location where the livestock was found, and the name, address, and telephone number of the person holding the livestock.
(c) Any person or agent of the Department taking up and impounding livestock under this chapter who refuses or neglects to give notice as provided in this section, shall be liable to the owner of such livestock in civil damages, to be recovered in a civil action before a Justice of the Peace Court or the Court of Common Pleas of the county in which the livestock was taken up.
§ 7703 Damage by livestock at large.
(a) Upon the application of any person, or the person's agent, sustaining any damage by reason of the livestock running at large contrary to this chapter, the person or person's agent may seek restitution from a Justice of the Peace Court or the Court of Common Pleas of the county in which damage was incurred by livestock, which may or may not have been taken up and impounded.
(b) If the owner of livestock cannot be located or identified and the livestock is taken up by the State, the State shall be held harmless for damages committed by the livestock.
§ 7704 Livestock disposition.
(a) If the livestock is not claimed and all legal charges satisfied in accordance with this chapter within 7 days, the person having the livestock in charge shall have the option to turn over ownership for adoption or advertise the livestock to be sold at public sale.
(b) Notice of the livestock sale under subsection (a) of this section must be provided as follows:
(1) If the owner is unknown, by placing a notice giving the particulars of the sale in at least 2 forms of media, including 1 print, for a duration of 3 days.
(2) If the owner is known, by giving a copy of the notice to the owner of the livestock or by leaving the same with an adult person at his or her usual place of abode.
(c) At the time fixed in the advertisement, the person having the livestock in charge shall proceed to sell the livestock, but may postpone the sale for good and sufficient cause. The proceeds of the sale, after deducting all legal charges, must be turned over to the Department.
(d) The State and the Department make no representation as to the health of any livestock sold or adopted under this chapter and may not be held liable for any damages pursuant to the sale or adoption of livestock sold or adopted under this chapter.
§ 7705 Exceptions.
This chapter shall not apply to livestock in the care of a drover using due diligence in the control thereof, or to livestock which accidentally escapes from the care of the drover. Proof of these circumstances shall always be admitted so that no injustice to the owners be inflicted in consequence thereof.
§ 7706 Accidental escape of livestock; liability of owners.
An owner, or other person in charge of livestock, who receives 25% or more of the person's annual gross income from the sale of agricultural products or the resale of animals grown, raised, or produced for food, fiber, fur or leather is not responsible in any action by reason of livestock accidentally escaping and straying at large, on any public highway, or on unenclosed lands within this State unless the owner or other person in charge thereof has negligently allowed the livestock to escape or unless he or she is guilty of negligence in the care of the livestock.
§ 7707 Enforcement; disposition of civil penalties.
The Department has the authority for administering and enforcing this chapter and may promulgate regulations to administer and enforce this chapter. The Delaware State Police, local police officers of the community in which the offense took place, and Department of Health and Social Services' Office of Animal Welfare shall assist the Department, at the request of the Department. All civil penalties imposed for violations of this chapter shall be paid to the Department. Any civil penalties collected by the Department under this section are hereby appropriated to the Department to carry out the purposes of this section.
§ 7708 .