Today there are more private homes than ever located in our rural areas. Residents here share a love for the open spaces they live in, spaces often made up of intermingled public lands and 100-year-old family ranches. These areas provide wildlife habitat, access for recreation, scenic views, and economic stability. But, they also present a variety of challenges, often much different than those experienced by city-dwellers.
Colorado: A Fence Out State
For new residents and ranchers alike, one of these challenges is to understand and accommodate each other’s needs with regard to livestock. Colorado has traditionally been an “Open Range” or “fence out" state. This means that landowners who prefer not to have livestock on their property are responsible for fencing them out. But, with this responsibility also comes certain rights and many questions. These issues are addressed here in terms of the questions most often asked by homeowners and ranchers.
Westerners have always relied on each other, working together to make their way of life in these remote areas possible. In the spirit of that tradition, the existing federal and state laws regarding fences and open range described here can form the foundation for neighbors to find solutions to living with each other and livestock.
Under Colorado State statute (35-46-107) it is unlawful to break a fence or open a gate that does not belong to you. This helps livestock owners ensure that they can control their animals.