No Sheep for Cooksville Commons

At the their monthly meeting on Nov. 12, 2018, the town board of Porter, Wisconsin (the administrative body responsible for the maintenance of the Cooksville Commons), voted down the proposal to keep sheep on the commons.

The proposal (which can be read in full here) suggested that we could use a community-owned flock of sheep to graze the grass and underbrush on the commons instead of paying to have it mowed and brushhogged. This would save the town money, be more ecologically friendly, and be in keeping with our rural village heritage.

(public domain image source)

Unfortunately, the commons is situated next to Wisconsin State Road 59, a two-lane rural road with a speed limit of 55 mph outside of town, which “slows” to 45 mph in Cooksville. It was the opinion of the town’s lawyer that the chance of a sheep-vehicle collision was too great and even with the flock owners’ insurance, the town may be held liable because the board would have approved the presence of the sheep. After all, the town has deeper pockets than any sheep co-op, and the driver’s insurance would go after both parties.

Wisconsin State Road 59 is visible at the bottom of this image and its proximity to the commons was a large contributing factor to the proposal being voted down.

The town board agreed with the lawyer, and stated that although it was an idea with potential, especially for taking care of the oak grove (situated far away from State Road 59), it was not prudent to approve the proposal. It was voted down 0–3.

It was a disappointment to me and the other supporters of the proposal. This does not mean that sheep will not be brought back to Cooksville, but they won’t be grazing on the commons grass. We are exploring options to keep sheep on privately held land in the village and the possibility of grazing under the oak grove on a periodic basis.

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