All jurisdictions (cities, counties, and states) have specific laws regarding hunting and trespass. Local law enforcement is required to enforce these laws. In 40 states there are wildlife management agencies in place that have wildlife officials who are given authority to enforce hunter trespass laws on private property. There are 22 states that do not require posting of intent to trespass for purposes of hunting; however, the property owner’s permission is necessary at all times. Some state laws give specific instructions on how to post hunting signs on property. A few states have enacted statutes dealing specifically with hunter trespass to retrieve dogs or wounded animals. Some state laws will not allow a hunter to retrieve his dogs or wounded animals on land where he was not originally, legally able to hunt. Knowing the rules of the game beforehand can lessen the chance of violating hunter trespass laws in your state.
Penalties for Hunter Trespass Can Be Strict
Hunters and landowners have a mutually agreeable coexistence. Intentional or accidental trespassing on the part of the hunter can damage that relationship. This is why hunters must obtain the landowner’s permission to enter his land for any reason. If the landowner is unavailable, the hunter should touch base with the sheriff’s office or the game warden, if there is one. Illegal hunting and shooting animals from the roadside or from railways is criminal hunting trespass and can be considered a form of poaching. If you are convicted of criminal hunting trespass in a state that belongs to the Wildlife Violator Compact, you may lose the privilege of being able to hunt or fish in any state that is a member of that Violator’s Compact.
Criminal hunting trespass can also result in a fine of $500 and one month in jail for a first offense. A second offense can result in a one year suspension of hunting privileges and additional fines or jail time; the larger the game being hunted, the stiffer the penalty.
Hunter Trespass Laws by State
There are different hunter trespass laws in the various jurisdictions. Some are strictly construed while others may be more lenient. This list is not all inclusive. Further information is available by contacting your state’s wildlife management agency.
- Both Maryland and Utah require written permission to enter the property of the landowner for purposes of hunting on his land. The property owner is also not liable for any injury to the hunter after permission is given.
- In South Dakota, in the Black Hills fire protection district, no hunting is allowed unless specifically given to the hunter by the property owner.
- In Texas, the property owner’s permission to hunt on their land is required at all times. Hunter trespassers are subject to arrests if this law is violated.
Hunter trespass is not something that the average individual will need to worry about. Those that engage in hunting as a recreational sport should know the laws with respect to their activity. Knowing the law is half the battle. If hunter trespass is an area of the law that you may need assistance in, you will need to talk to an experienced personal injury law attorney. Please contact us today, by phone at 1-877-363-7942, or take advantage of our online case evaluation form to schedule your initial case review.
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