Town Of Readfield Suing Farmer Who Can’t Keep Cattle Out Of Road 

Town officials in Readfield say they’re fed up with one local farmer and his inability to keep his cows off a busy road. Now they’re taking their beef to court.If you’re ever traveling the busy section of Route 17, just before it intersects with Route 135, you may have noticed the signs warning of cows crossing the road.For the second time, the town of Readfield is suing the farmer they say is the worst offender among those who make that type of signage necessary. Edward Munson, 66, who owns a cattle farm with roughly 120 head of cattle located on Route 17.The suit filed Friday in Kennebec County Superior Court charges eight violations of the state’s animal trespass statute. Each violation carries a fine ranging from $50 to $500, plus restitution for costs of animal removal.”The point is to try to protect public safety and make sure the animals are not continuing to get out into the road putting drivers and the public at risk. Putting our employees at risk who have to respond to help get the animals back in,” said Readfield Town Manager, Stefan Pakulski.Town officials say they’ve received more than 30 complaints about Munson’s cattle being in the road, and three years ago one of his stray water buffaloes caused an accident that totaled a vehicle.Munson said his cows are all being kept in a secure corral on his farm where he claims it’s impossible for them to escape. He insists they’re all well fed and healthy.Munson says he’s being unfairly targeted by town officials who don’t want cattle on the particular spot on Route 17 where his farm is located and he claims it’s only one bull that’s causing the issue.”They harassed me ever since I’ve had the farm,” Munson said Monday. “You know what the trouble is? The trouble is I had one bull that got out, a Hereford. And I took him away a week ago last Sunday. Ask them if my cows have got out in the last week or so.”Pakulski says he’s still hopeful a solution can be reached that allows a safe, productive farm to exist on Munson’s property. He says an improvement in Munson’s attitude is a reason to be cautiously optimistic the situation can be resolved.”We know that he’s trying to make efforts to improve it. He has not been as combative or as dismissive of it recently as he used to be,” Pakulski said. “If we can find a way to make sure that the fences are in good repair and that the animals are well taken care of and are not going to be trying to get out all the time that’s good. If he cannot get that assured and the only to do it is by getting the animals removed we would follow that course.”Munson says he’s paid $10,000 to have the land surveyed and as soon as the surveying is complete he plans to put up new fencing around his pasture to let his cows safely graze. As for the lawsuit?”I just want the truth to come out,” Munson said. “The truth is that they just don’t want cattle on that road.”