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State, Sidney farmer at odds over wandering goats

SIDNEY (WGME) -- A Sidney man's goats are escaping his farm to graze alongside Interstate 95, just feet away from traffic.

Mark Gould's Drummond Road farm sits just on the other side of a fence owned by the Department of Transportation.

He has chickens, cows and upwards of 2 dozen goats, some that are slipping through broken spots and getting out.

Gould said his goats simply have nothing better to do.

They were spotted roaming free at least twice in the past few days.

And this isn't the first time. Back in 2011, he was fined $300 for violating the state's animal trespass law.

Mike Burns, region manager with the DOT, said it's become a public safety concern.

"People traveling on the interstate looking at the animals, or one could wander into the highway and cause an accident," he said.

At the heart of the matter, is the fence.

It was built by the DOT solely to draw a line between state land and private land.

Gould claims that when the state took the land for the interstate decades ago, the original property owner was guaranteed the state would maintain it.

But Burns said that isn't the case.

"It's a farmer's responsibility to keep his or her livestock on their own property," he said. "And if he's gonna use our fence, then he needs to maintain it."

Multiple local and state agencies are keeping an eye on the situation and talking to Gould in hopes of resolving the situation. But if it continues, they say he could face another fine for animal trespass.

Burns said DOT crews have inspected the fence, and any repairs will be out of concern for public safety, not for Gould.