QUESTION: The Advocate recently wrote a story about two men arrested in the theft of 13 heifers and a bull from a ranch in St. Landry Parish, with Livestock Brand Commission agents assisting the Sheriff’s Office in the investigation. Since the animals were sold at auction, is the auctioneer liable? Also, what steps does the state take to ensure that livestock sold at auction are not stolen?

ANSWER: This might have been a case of: Let the buyer beware.

Veronica Mosgrove, spokeswoman with the state Department of Agriculture and Forestry, says the $20,000 worth of cattle were not branded or tagged with unique tags, so the auctioneer did not know they were stolen.

“The auctioneer is not liable in the event of fraud by a seller,” she said.

As for keeping things on the up and up: “All livestock offered for public sale are inspected by LDAF and entered into our database for tracking, which helped in this investigation.”

However, she said the database is for the use of LDAF, not the auctioneer. “The database has a twofold purpose: It’s used to trace animal disease and it’s used for theft investigations. The database has been successful in solving several theft cases and tracking suspected animal disease cases.”

Use under-utilized bridge for bypass

QUESTION: Why isn’t there a serious discussion about a bypass that goes from Ramah or Grosse Tete to the Gramercy bridge and on to Interstate 10 to divert all eastbound traffic to one of the other under-utilized bridges? It would also facilitate evacuation from points east in the event of another hurricane or nuclear disaster. This, in my opinion, should be done regardless of other improvements and could be completed while the much needed loop is being studied out of economic feasibility.

ANSWER: Lauren Lee, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation and Development, notes that the Veterans Memorial Bridge near Gramercy is too far from the Baton Rouge metro area, where congestion is the heaviest.

“Using this bridge as a bypass would require extensive approach roadways, resulting in a lengthy route at a high price,” Lee says. “The Sunshine Bridge and the U.S. 190 Bridge are much closer. In particular, the U.S. 190 Bridge provides a reasonable alternative to avoid congestion on the I-10 Mississippi River Bridge.

“Further, DOTD is studying a new bridge between the I-10 Bridge and the Sunshine Bridge that would connect La. 1 with La. 30.”

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