Bernalillo County warns drivers of cattle crossings

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – Wandering horses and cattle on three busy roads are cause for concern, according to Bernalillo County officials.

“Over the years there’s been a number of accidents,” the county’s communications and service specialist, Larry Gallegos, said. “[They are] not frequent but one here and one there. No one’s been killed or anything but some animals have been killed. Some damage to cars because you’re hitting a 500-pound steer.”

The I-40 frontage road — Shelly Drive and Deputy Dean Miera Drive leading up to the Metropolitan Detention Center — bring traffic heading to the jail, local speedway track and trash dump.

Gallegos said the main problem is on an unfenced stretch of Dean Miera Road behind the MDC.

“The bigger issue is possibly putting a cattle guard on the edge of the county property,” he added. “There’s a loop up there at Deputy Dean Miera Drive and that’s where they’re coming out.”

Although the horses and cattle are coming from private property, the landowner isn’t doing anything wrong: New Mexico has an Open Range Law, meaning farmers and ranchers don’t have to fence in animals.

The county is now making a campaign for awareness.

“Slow down a little bit,” Gallegos said. “Maybe if it’s dusk, put your headlights on sooner so you can see further in front of you.”

Gallegos said the county aims to add additional cattle crossing signs more lighting for the roads at night, though there is no set time table for those projects.

A transport van driver with the jail said wandering animals in the roadways are mostly a problem in the mornings and evenings.

A trash truck driver added he doesn’t know of any truck crashes caused by the animals.

The Open Range Law states the owner of livestock is not held liable for a crash.

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