KAYSVILLE — Livestock can no longer roam free in city streets.

Not that they really could before; animal-control officers would pick up loose barnyard creatures and impound them. But previously officers didn't have the authority to fine or cite livestock owners who allowed their animals to live on the lam.

Now, however, it's rancher beware.

At the urging of Davis County Animal Control officials, the City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Tuesday making it a class C misdemeanor for livestock to run at large.

"It's good common sense that horses and cows should not be roaming the streets of west Kaysville," Councilman Darrell Horne said.

Before Tuesday this residential community of more than 20,000 had lacked such a prohibitive law. In fact, Kaysville had been the only Davis County municipality without an ordinance banning at-large livestock.

City Manager John Thacker called the omission an "oversight."

Nonetheless, before Tuesday livestock could run unattended throughout the city. Animal-control officers complained that the lack of punishment encouraged owners to let their beasts of burden wander.

The issue had been a source of contention for animal-control officials who said wandering sheep, goats, pigs and cows presented myriad public-safety concerns.

Officers cited several traffic accidents involving livestock in and around Kaysville as evidence.

Now officers will have authority to impound free-roaming "cattle, sheep, goats, swine, horses, mules, poultry or domesticated elk" and punish their owners. The ordinance does allow an exception when owners are herding their animals.

But before the council agreed to pass the new law there was some debate.

"I'm wondering if there's another side to this," Councilwoman Neka Roundy said.

There is, said Councilman Reed Nelson, using his own cattle as an example.

"What if some loose dogs get into my pasture and chase my cows out?" he asked. "Is that my fault? I'm going to try and get my cows back as soon as I can, but I'll still be punished."

Nelson and Roundy, however, begrudgingly joined the council's unanimous vote.

E-MAIL: bsnyder@desnews.com