It’s no longer legal to shoot stray bison that wander onto your land, thanks to a new law that went into effect September 1. Senate Bill 174 adds the grazers to the state’s list of protected “estray livestock” animals, requiring anyone who finds them running loose to round them up and attempt to return them to their owner (or have the sheriff do it). Unclaimed animals can be auctioned off after two weeks, The Texas Tribune reports.
The Sheriffs’ Association of Texas opposed the bill out of concern that it could be dangerous to wrangle the sometimes aggressive animals. But the law includes an exception that permits the shooting of bison “if a perilous condition exists.” (If you’re eager for more details about the new law, the Tribune put together an animated video that outlines the key points.)
The Bottom Line: The legislation was inspired by cases such as a 2010 incident in King County, in which a cattle rancher shot 51 bison that had wandered into his pasture. As the price of bison meat is quickly rising—a 1,000-pound animal is currently valued at about $2,300—it can be devastating for bison ranchers to take that kind of loss. One rancher