I have a herd of sheep which keep coming onto my land, "fertilising" the ground and killing my fruit trees - and despite my efforts I have been unable to locate the owner of the sheep (The property they are meant to be on is rented, but the sheep dont belong to the tenants and the owner has not contacted me despite asking those tenants for help.

I am at the point where I need to take further action. I don't think quarantining the sheep for a few days in my paddock will help (to small, no grazing left).

Am I legally entitled to kill the sheep, and (as I do not relish killing animals), am I at liberty to sell the sheep (or sell some of them in return for someone taking care of them)?

  • My answer is a little late, but I hope it can be of help in the future, or to another user.
    – sorifiend
    Commented Apr 15, 2020 at 4:31

1 Answer 1


The best course of action

The information in this answer is my personal interpretation only, so I recommend getting in touch with your local or district authority (They should be considered an essential service at this time), who will be able to make recommendations and advise you the best course of action.

Impounding Act 1955

The Impounding Act 1955 appears to be the relevant legislation, and it appears that you may Impound, but not destroy, the stock. There is a great amount of information and detail in the Act that I will not quote here, but I encourage you to read the relevant parts.

Section 21 of the 'Impounding Act 1955' states

The occupier of any land may seize and impound any stock trespassing on the land.

Reading further into Part 5 (Sections 21-31) we can see some remedies including section 22(1):

Except as hereinafter provided, stock shall be impounded in the nearest accessible pound to the place where the stock was found trespassing.

Section 24 has additional information on impounding the stock on your land if the owner of the stock is known to you.

Note, your local authority can notify you of where to find the closest pound.

In response to your question:

Am I legally entitled to kill the sheep

No, refer to section 31 which does not make allowances for sheep. I have not quoted it here because there are a number of special requirements, refer to the Act for more information.

In response to your question:

am I at liberty to sell the sheep

No, it appears that there are no allowances for private landowners to do so, but it appears that local authority may. However, it does appear that you may seek damages from the stock owner in some situations where fencing was not adequate as per section 26:

(1) Except as otherwise provided in this Act, the occupier of land trespassed upon by stock shall not be entitled to demand or recover any damages whatsoever on account of the trespass thereon of any stock unless—

(a) the land or the portion of the land trespassed upon is fenced; or

(b) he proves that the trespass on to his land was not wholly or partly due to the fact that his land or the portion trespassed upon was not fenced; or

(c) in any case where stock trespassing on any land adjoining his land and not fenced therefrom has trespassed on to his land from that adjoining land, he proves that the trespass on to the adjoining land was not wholly or partly due to the fact that that adjoining land was not fenced; or

(d) the land (whether fenced or unfenced) is situated in a city or a part of a district that was formerly a city or borough:

provided that nothing in this paragraph shall apply with respect to the trespass by stock on to unfenced land having a frontage to a road declared by the local authority by bylaw to be a stock route, if the stock is being driven along the road at the time and subject to the conditions prescribed by the bylaw.

Note sub section 3 as well:

(3) Where stock has been impounded for trespass and the occupier of the land trespassed upon notifies the poundkeeper that he intends to claim actual damages instead of trespass rates pursuant to section 27, the poundkeeper shall, on payment of all other authorised fees and charges, release the stock to the owner.

Further reading

Link to the Impounding Act 1955: http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1955/0108/latest/whole.html

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