Don’t be a cowsualty
More and more people are using Benton Crossing Road, according to rancher Mark Johns, which means the risk of vehicle/cattle collisions is higher than ever.
Johns attended Tuesday’s Mono County Board of Supervisors meeting to see if the County could help him work on a solution to increase driver awareness on that road, which is in the middle of an open range.
“We need more notification that livestock is out there,” Johns explained. “There is a lot of activity and more tour buses coming through. If a bus were to hit a cow, it would make national news.”
Last year there was one incident in the area where a car hit a cow and calf, killing both animals.
“There are 25 mph signs for the sage grouse, but no cattle crossing signs,” he said. “We could take the corporate view of ‘you run into our cow, tough luck,’ but we are trying to participate in the community.”
Since it is open range, Johns said if he were ever required to go to court over a vehicle/cattle collision, he would most likely win. He also pointed out that if someone hit a cow and reported it to CHP, the driver’s insurance would most likely end up buying the cow.
“We’re willing to participate in anything,” Johns explained. He is currently working on a fencing project with Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, but the project has to go through environmental studies, first.
“Cows are oblivious to cars,” Johns continued. “If it’s a diesel truck in the winter they’ll even chase it because that’s how we feed them.”
Supervisor Hap Hazard suggested temporary, moveable signs in the area to catch drivers’ attention when the cows are out there, which is generally after July 4.
“It’s a good, paved road,” Hazard said. “You’re not going to get people to slow down with fixed signs.”
He added that many accidents are due to intoxicated drivers at night coming across cows that don’t reflect well.
“Is there a reason why ranchers don’t put something reflective on their cows when they are out there,” asked Supervisor Larry Johnston.
Johns said he hadn’t heard of any product of this type.
The Board directed Public Works staff to work with Johns on temporary, portable signs.