From Backyard chickens to … giraffes? How to keep animals on your property.
The Wall Street Journal Mansion Section from 04/18/2014 has an excellent article titled “Where the Wild Things Are.” This article discusses people who own properties to keep animals. Exotic animals. These aren’t folks with multiple dogs or potbelly pigs; we’re talking about bobcats, lions, tigers, giraffes, hyenas, capybaras… (For those who aren’t familiar, this is a capybara.)
Wisconsin has relatively relaxed rules for keeping exotic animals. Interested parties should begin with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, & Consumer Protection. Certain municipalities have their own bans and restrictions in place. Please contact me for additional information about these municipalities.
While I haven’t had requests for property to keep exotic animals (yet), I receive plenty of requests for help finding homes for people with other animals! Homes with land and outbuildings are prized by people with multiple dogs, those who want hobby farms to raise their own sheep, cattle, or even llamas and alpacas, and a surprising number of city dwellers ask about municipal rules for keeping backyard chickens!
Here are three things both buyers and sellers should consider:
1. Know the land! How many acres, exactly, are on the property? This is important because municipalities frequently restrict the number of animals based on acreage. If one horse is allowed with three acres, a 2.973 acre parcel means no horses without a written exemption from the municipality. Also, what type of land is on the property? Pasture with excellent drainage versus hilly scrub land lend themselves to different types of animals. What is the zoning? Even “simple” Agricultural and Rural zoning isn’t always so simple!
2. Outbuildings and possible buildings. What outbuildings are present? Is the barn for drying hay or for keeping animals and farm implements out of bad weather? If there is a tumbledown building on the property, can it physically and legally be rebuilt? If not, may a new replacement building legally be installed on the old building’s footprint? How many buildings are allowed and what are the restrictions? (There will be restrictions even in the most rural areas of Wisconsin.) Are any buildings grandfathered under law and, if so, what are the rules surrounding these grandfathered buildings?
3. Water. How close is the property to water? Do Wisconsin’s Shoreland Zoning rules apply? Must animals be kept a certain distance from the water? How do you intend to handle manure and manure pits? Beyond water on the property, how will the animals be watered? Is there running water in the outbuildings? May water physically and legally be brought to the outbuildings?
These are just three of the numerous issues facing rural property sellers and buyers. I have handled these and other issues for both sellers and buyers of raw rural land, farms, and hobby farms. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions about rural land, farms, or hobby farms!