Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski says they have already seen an uptick in hunters trespassing while tracking wild game. He says the trespassing conversation is usually reserved for the start of the gun season for deer in late November, but it has already reared its head during the bowhunting and small game periods. Many times it is hunters losing track of where they are and stumbling onto property that has changed hands or is no longer public. Other incidents have escalated to hunters challenging law enforcement about their right to be on the land. Joski reminds hunters that they need permission directly from the property owner to hunt on the land before they line up their shot.
Wisconsin law dictates that you also need permission from the property owner if your harvest ends up on someone else’s property even if you shot it somewhere else. Hunters that trespass will usually begin with a verbal warning, but Joski adds it could end up as a citation if they choose to disregard the wishes of law enforcement and the property owner.
FROM SHERIFF JOSKI
Although the gun deer season does not open for a few weeks, we do have some other hunting seasons which of course have kicked off over the past few weeks, and I wanted to touch base on a reoccurring issue which we have already started to deal with this fall; trespassing.
I don’t think there is a hunter out there who does not look forward to this time of year with great anticipation, but this year I have no doubt the need to break out into the great outdoors will be even that much greater. When it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle there is no better resource for physical health than fresh air, and no better psychological therapy than the tranquility and beauty of the outdoors. We just need to make sure that our personal pursuit of enjoyment does not come at the cost of another’s personal property rights.
The statute that defines trespassing (Wisconsin State Statute 943.13) has many sub sets, but it can be summarized by the following:
“Anyone who enters onto property of another without the consent of the property owner”.
Seems simple right? Many times what complicates this simple guiding rule are misunderstandings or miscommunications. Let’s start first with physical property boundaries. It is the responsibility of the hunter to know where they are at all times in regards to property lines. Historically, physically posting private property signs was required for enforcement; this is no longer the case. Ask before you enter. Even if you have been hunting on that specific land for years, don’t assume the same person owns the property. Ask before you enter. Also, the same person you had permission from last year may not want you to go on their land this year. Ask before you enter. The common theme here is: ASK BEFORE YOU ENTER!
In regards to enforcement, it is important to note that before we take punitive action we will always start with a warning. This provides a clear message that regardless of past practice or miscommunication, you are no longer allowed on the property. It also makes it much easier if the trespassing citation goes to court in that it is documented that a warning was given and then disregarded.
Although I covered this topic in another article, I would like to remind people that if you are using a dog for hunting, that dog is an extension of you. If you cannot be on a property, your dog can also not be on that property. It’s much like trespassing by proxy. ASK BEFORE YOU (Or your Dog) ENTER!
Regardless of what hunt you are engaged in or even if you are just out exploring nature, don’t tarnish the experience by violating someone else’s property rights.