Wisconsin has called itself America’s Dairyland for decades. Agriculture is one of the state’s three biggest industries.
Agriculture is not limited to farm fields, and small-scale agriculture within Southwest Wisconsin city or village limits isn’t limited to gardens in back yards. There is wide variation in which animals Southwest Wisconsin communities allow or prohibit within city or village limits.
In Lancaster, most agriculturally related animals and insects are allowed within the city limits. The city, which last updated its ordinances in November 2014, limited the ability to keep animals deemed “exotic,” as well as vicious dogs (specifically naming pit bulls), but for farm animals, rules are open. Even bison, which are listed under the definition of bovine, are allowed, as would chickens, goats, cows, and bees.
About 41 percent of the city’s land is zoned agricultural.
The City of Platteville, which has no ag-zoned land, allows “horses, cows, goats, sheep, donkeys, ponies, or mules,” but only within enclosures of at least one acre for the first animal and one-half acre for each additional animal.
The city defines as public nuisances animals that engage in “frequent or habitual howling, yelping, barking, crowing, or making of other noises” as well as an animal that “causes an undesirable odor of such intensity as to annoy neighbors.”
The City of Platteville also requires permits for beekeepers that limit them to between two and six hives on up to 1 acre of land, but no limit for larger land. The permitting process includes an annual fee and notification of land owners within 200 feet of the property where bees will be kept. The ordinance includes a 10-foot limit from adjacent property, a 25-foot limit from “habitable buildings,” a flyaway barrier for hives within 25 feet of property lines. The ordinance also includes a provision requiring that beekeepers with a colony that “exhibits unusual aggressive characteristics by stinging or attempting to sting without due provocation or exhibits an unusual disposition toward swarming” must replace the queen bee with another queen that “shall be selected from European stock bred for gentleness and non-swarming characteristics.”
A separate section of the city’s animal ordinance regulates poultry, requiring run areas of at least 30 square feet per bird that is at least six months old. The ordinance, however, does not apply to exhibitors of poultry or buyers of poultry for “shipment or retail meat purposes.”
In the Village of Potosi, agricultural animals are limited to the areas of the village that are zoned agricultural. There is no limitation on caged animals, like chickens or rabbits.
The Village of Cassville has a very similar ordinance, listing agricultural animals to agriculturally zoned lands. Cassville’s ordinance specifically states poultry would be considered a farm animal.
Since 1996, farming of “sheep, cows, horses, swine, ducks, geese, chickens or fur bearing animals” has been prohibited in Cuba City. The ordinance grandfathered in existing ag operations, but prohibited expansion or restarting a farm operation if it had been discontinued.
The City of Boscobel bans “domestic fowl, livestock, or wildlife,” including chickens, horses, llamas, and other “undomesticated animals which usually live in the wild, including those hunted or trapped for food, sport, or profit.” The ordinance doesn’t apply to show animals, but limits them to 72 hours within city limits.
The Village of Benton bans the possession with intent to sell or purchase of “all wild cats of the family Felidae, polar bear (Thalarctos maritimus), red wolf (Canis niger), vicuna (Vicugna), gray or timber wolf (Canis lupus), sea otter (Enhydra lutris), Pacific ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), Atlantic green turtle (Chelonia mydas), Mexican ridley turtle (Lepidochelys kempi),” as well as any animal or part of animal on the federal Endangered Species List. The village also bans, except for veterinarians, pet shops, circuses and exhibitors, keeping “poisonous animals,” apes, baboons, bears, bison, cheetahs, crocodiles 30 inches or longer, “constrictor snakes,” coyotes, deer, elephants, “game cocks and other fighting birds,” hippopotamuses, hyenas, jaguars, leopards, lions, lynx, “old world” monkeys, ostriches, pumas, rhinoceroses, sharks, snow leopards, tigers, wolves and poisonous insects.
The village allows up to six hens (and no roosters) in back yards farther than 15 feet from residential structures, but bans “farm livestock” away from ag lands.
Beekeeping is banned in the City of Fennimore.
Other communities don’t have ordinances that specifically allow, regulate or ban animals other than dogs or cats, beyond such ordinances as public nuisance ordinances, ordinances that require animal waste cleanup, or ordinances that ban animals running at large, keeping vicious animals or cruelty to animals.