Orrington officials settle cattle dispute

Posted Sept. 23, 2009, at 8:21 p.m.

ORRINGTON, Maine — Town officials have secretly settled a dispute with cattle farmer Herbert “Herbie” Henderson over a renegade bull that was shot in August 2008 after escaping the Henderson farm, damaging property and scaring residents, Town Manager Paul White said on Wednesday.

“We have a no-talk-about-it clause,” he said about the agreement. “That has been settled with the insurance company and is no longer an issue with the town.”

While unable to give details about the recent arrangement between Henderson and the town’s insurance provider, Maine Municipal Association, White was able to say that no town funds have been allocated as part of the settlement.

The town manager added that Henderson’s animals continue to escape.

Henderson was charged with two counts of animal trespass on Sept. 9 after 26 cows escaped his farm a week earlier, Carla Brown, the town’s animal control officer, said on Wednesday.

“He was cited under the new local ordinance for [the cows] being out more than 24 hours,” she said. “They were out for about a week before he got them all rounded up.”

The renegade livestock were first reported to the town on Sept. 2, and by Sept. 3 about half were recaptured, Brown said. A fallen tree had knocked down a portion of Henderson’s fence, allowing the animals to escape, she said.

The new animal ordinance was endorsed by residents at the annual town meeting in June and was written in response to nearly 100 complaints about cows and bulls from Henderson’s farm that had gotten loose between May and August of last year.

To address the problem, Henderson added a new fence to secure his animals last fall and paid to repair damage his livestock made to neighbors’ properties.

The town’s new animal ordinance now allows the animal control officer to capture and impound livestock that are running free. Once the animal is caught, the owner must be reached.

Then, after seven days in the impound yard, “such livestock may be disposed of by such agent in a humane manner prescribed by the State of Maine, or sold with all proceeds of said sale remanded to the town of Orrington,” the ordinance states.

Town officials actually corralled two cows, the last of Henderson’s most recent escapees, back into his fence on Sept. 10, Brown said.

“An officer and I put the last two in,” she said. “They were in the road, and I couldn’t reach Mr. Henderson.”

In the few months that the new animal ordinance has been in effect, Brown has had to deal with a couple of loose horses but none that have stayed running free for more than 24 hours. Henderson is the only person who has been ticketed, so far, Brown said. He is scheduled to be in 3rd District Court in Bangor on Oct. 29 to face the charges against him.

Cattle have been escaping from the Henderson farm, located near the junction of Dow Road and Center Drive, for years. Henderson, 80, has been given animal trespass tickets for the at-large animals that date to at least October 1993, according to court reports printed in the Bangor Daily News.

After Henderson’s bull was shot by deputies in August 2008, his son, Dale Henderson, demanded in an Oct. 27, 2008, letter to the town that his father be reimbursed because he was not informed when the 2-year-old bull was shot and wasn’t able to harvest its meat.

The town offered Henderson a compensation check for $2,700 in November 2008 for the meat of the bull but that offer was rejected by Dale Henderson, who told selectmen that it “is not enough in this case” and pursued suing the town.

nricker@bangordailynews.net

990-8190

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