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Hunter access dispute raised
By Jeff Zent
[email protected]
The Forum - 05/28/2003
The North Dakota Farm Bureau is challenging a state law that gives hunters access to private property without permission.

State law holds that if private landowners don't post signs prohibiting access, hunters can legally assume they have permission to enter, North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said.

The Farm Bureau hopes to change that by financing a civil lawsuit filed Tuesday in state district court in Fort Yates, N.D.

"The Game and Fish Department has said publicly that all land is open to trespass unless posted. We believe the constitution of North Dakota would say otherwise," said Herb Manig, executive vice president of the state Farm Bureau.

The suit names Gov. John Hoeven and Game and Fish Director Dean Hildebrand as defendants.

The debate could rest with the North Dakota Supreme Court, Hoeven said.

"Really it's an issue for the attorney general to defend the existing state law," he said.

Hildebrand referred questions about the lawsuit to Stenehjem.

State Rep. Rodney Froelich, R-Selfridge, N.D., and his wife, Kathryn, filed the suit. The Froelichs own about 7,500 acres in Sioux County, the lawsuit says.

The Froelichs could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The Farm Bureau is paying the costs of the lawsuit through its newly formed Northern Plains Public Interest Firm.

The Farm Bureau created the legal defense foundation to help protect landowners' rights, Manig said.

State officials have erroneously interpreted the law and the Game and Fish Department wrongfully advises hunters, the suit says.

"A failure to post a notice warning the public against trespass is not an expression of consent to the intrusion …," the suit says.

The state's interpretation creates an "unconstitutional taking" of landowners' property, said Doug Goulding, a Devils Lake attorney hired by the legal defense foundation to represent the Froelichs.

Land access laws in South Dakota and Minnesota are much different.

In both of the neighboring states, hunters must get landowners' permission regardless if the property is posted, officials in both states said.

The Farm Bureau is taking the property rights debate to court because the Legislature failed to address the issue, said John Mittleider, the Farm Bureau's vice president of public policy.

"People have been urging us to do something," Manig said. "There's pressure to resolve this thing so we're taking steps to do it."

The debate is not just about hunters' access to private lands. Uncontrolled access could also undermine efforts to safeguard against bioterrorism, Manig said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is urging farmers to secure their property, but the state is making it difficult, he said.

Jim Weight of Jamestown has hunted in North Dakota for 48 years. And as long as he can remember, private land that isn't posted has been fair game for hunters.

The law shouldn't be changed now, said Weight, chairman of the United Sportsmen of North Dakota.

"Maybe all of us have just taken it for granted over the years that you're hunting on private land that just isn't posted," he said. "But I also believe that if the landowners don't want you on there, they'll tell you in one fashion or another."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Zent at (701) 241-5526
 

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Won't be long & ND will be just like all the rest. (States)

I should be happy I lived & got to participate in one of the most unique states for hunting. (& I am) But I can see a end - It maybe started around 10 years ago.

It will be interesting how hard Hoven & Hilldebrand & Stenehjem defend the current Laws :roll: :eyeroll:

The wolves are circling the weak & wounded - might be a better anology - what a sad legacy this administration is leaving. Give up & roll over in just a few short years. :******:

& call it compromise :oops: :******:

& to say it's because of Bio Terroism :roll: :lol: :cry: :lol: :cry: I can't make up my mind on that Gem :roll:
 

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WOW, if this lawsuit is successful, I believe there won't be any further debate on increasing non-resident hunter numbers in the State.
 

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Farm Bureau knew they couldn't strong arm it through the legislature because it failed every previous time, so now they'll try the courts. "Unconstitual taking" is right out of Posse handbook. Werid. And the folks who filed the case can't be reached for comment? Set up deal.

The saddest part is the legislature could settled the hunting issues decisively, so there would be no doubt in anyone's mind. And they dropped the ball. It is going to be up to the people now. We have to take it in our hands.
 

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DICK, THOUGHT YOU COULD SPEND THE SUMMER FARMING.WELL YOU ARE WIGHT ON THE MARK. THIS COULD BE THE BIGGIST LAW SUIT IN ND HISTORY. THE FB IS GOING TO STICK IT TO US. THE SPORTSMANS ALLIANCE MAY HAVE TO GO IN TO ACTION AGAIN.THIS WILL TEST ND SPORTSMEN LIKE NOTHING ELSE. SANDY BARNES.
 

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Selfridge is on the reservation isn't it ???

Does this have anything to do with their sovereignty ???

I think I'll have to jump on the Natives bandwagon & campaign for them to get back as much land & water rights, as possible - I think they would be more reasonable to deal with (access) than our State Government :roll: & Some of the greedy Farm Orgs. :******:
 

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Does anyone else hear ask permission first on land that isn't posted? I'm not defending FB here, but I always ask permission before I go one someone elses property. I have always done it and will continue to do that. This wouldn't change the way I do things, but it would for quite a few people. I don't like the way FB is going about this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I ask first--if I can figure out who owns it and then track them down. Sometimes when I do, I get the attitude "why are you bothering me? I didn't post it. YES, you can hunt it."
 

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When we are scouting for geese we also attempt to speak with the farmer before setting up the next morning. Never know when the farmer is planning to plow or add anhydrous to "your goose field". More than once we have avoided this type of confrontation. Plus we have met some really good people along the way.

This rule will really impact freelance hunting. Especially for goose jumpers, and those upland game & puddle duck hunting.

Love it or hate it - ND road hunting will end.

Our afternoon scouting trips often are intermixed with some good hunting. Spotting upland game in a field or a bunch of mallards in a pothole will be more difficult to pursue immediately.

A late evening mallard hunt may be nearly impossible.
scout, find birds, and hunt will turn into:
scout, find birds, determine landowner, contact landowner, get permission, sunset ..

Once you do not have to post the land, the hunter will need to become very familiar with the landowners - who farms what and where or hunters will need to buy plat books for the counties that you hunt.

FB sell county plat map books??? :wink:
 

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Fetch...all of Souix county is on the Standing Rock Reservation.
 

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Froehlich is also a big supporter of changing the UND nickname. I understood that because he lives on the res and has to represent his constituency. I have no idea what his motive is with this lawsuit but I hope he loses miserably.
 

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I think a few people are overreacting here. I always ask permission, regardless of whether the land is posted or not. Save the arguments of not being able to find the landowner or the landowner getting angry with numerous people knocking on their door. All you have to do is do some homework to find the landowner. However, this means getting out scouting in April or May, and NOT September.

If I don't have my 2-acre lot posted in the suburbs, should a person be able to walk across my yard without asking? I don't think so since it is private property. I don't see how agricultural land is any different.

I actually think that changing the current trespass law should benefit North Dakota hunters, not hurt them. We residents live here twelve months a year. That means that we can get out, knock on doors, and start building relationships that non-residents simply can't. Therefore, instead of looking for the sky to fall, let's start building relationships with landowners!

BigDaddy
 

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Bigdaddy...I disagree.And not because I don't ask or am to lazy to ask.
Some landowners actually have actually gotten mad at me because I asked.They said they don't want to be bothered by the phone ringing off the wall or constant pounding on their door.
So we should penalize them by making them put up signs saying it is OK so the guy down the road doesn't have to post to keep people out?
 

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Yeah Yeah Yeah - I ask more often than not - But this is the biggest thing that makes ND Unique - & like others - I too have had many say thats why I don't post - I don't want all the phone calls & interuptions.

This is usually endorsed by NR's that cannot grasp the concept. But this has been Normal Here Forever- It is one step closer to commercial hunting becoming the norm. - It is hard now to find landowners - without bothering alot of rural people. & if this happens it will be impossible to find many & many who don't own the land, or have permission to not allow hunting will becme the norm. There is enough of that now (people saying no, or posting land that is not theirs.

I predict this will fail as much as past attempts & if you wants us to finally learn how to do the referal thing, this will be the one (Then watch the flood gates open for referal law changes.) The FB will find out just how much of a minority they are. :******:

It's sad to see the bad vibes & relations developing between rural & cities - & it does not have to be this way - we need each other to keep ND Special. But as fewer people get control of more & more land this is what you get.

I tell ya this Govenor & Director & Legislature is the weakest ever in ND History as far as G&F goes. :eyeroll:
 

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I live in a state with a very strict and aggressively enforced trespassing law. My experience with landowners here is that they get tired of dealing with who hunts and who doesn't. It becomes easier to just say no to everybody or to lease it and forget about it. Some land owners worry about liability etc. etc. Access to land around here is extremely hard to come by. There are alot of negatives that make it harder and harder to get on land when it is all posted by the state.
 

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This would become a nightmare.There are many landowner snowbirds who fly south.They would be immpossible to locate.A no tresspass law will make it much easier for the commercial hunting business.They don't have to post anything,yet they know exactly where they lease land.If this happens the first thing I would do is get a current copy of the county atlas where I hunt.
 

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Big Daddy,

Good point. If the law remains as is I should not worry about going in someone's back yard if the land is not posted and have a BBQ? What is the difference from that and open land? Why should we have to post for no hunting when the ones who don't care who hunts do not have to post anything. This would just reverse who has to post.

Econ.
 

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Econ I will bet that your bar will be for sale within 18 months or 2 hunting seasons if this goes bad for the hunter. I really think you need to take the next class in econ.

To respond to Ken W comments on hunters talking to farmers. When I lived on the farm and would stop and talk to the neighbors about hunting they would complain about being bothered by hunters during buxy times. They understood that waterfowl would move and if there today gone the next. They also stated that if I did not want someone to hunt I would post it.

THe other reason that many back home that are landowners do not want this is the deer population. Many have predidation problems and encourage hunters to use the ground. This will just add to the current problem of a exploding deer population.

FB needs to be taken to task, we as hunters need to contact our farmer freinds and ask them to pressure FB to drop this issue. My instinct tells me that when the truth behind this push comes out FB will be damaged permanetly. Those of us that support hunter freindly senators and legislators need to contact them and remind them that taking money for campaign contributons from this organization may not reflect well when it comes time to vote next time.

This is pure and simple greed and politcs. We need to get as agressive and as dirty as they are and put the feet to the fire. I hope that this post and others like it end up on Ron Iversons desk as this can be laid right at his feet and I for one will be willing to strike the first match to bring the heet to bear.
 

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I grew up on a ranch and am a sportsman so I can see this issue form both sides. I'm still not sure what side of the fence I'm on in regards to this issue, but I will add my two bits. First, there is more landowners in favor of the FB on this issue than you realize. Second, I believe all the ethical hunters ask permission before hunting someone else's land anyway and this won't effect them as much as they may think. The problem now is people every year are sneaking on land and ripping down posters. A no trespass law will help deter this behavior because this illegal activity will be easier to prove. This is one of the major reasons some landowners will side with the FB in this case. I do know Rod and his sons and I don't believe they are into any type of commercial hunting and I don't see them getting into it. I think he is just sick of playing "Sheriff" on his land. He has family and friends that hunt and most people, including my dad, just like to know who is on their land. This is a touchy issue. I see it more as a problem for waterfowlers, Rod lives in upland country. I guess if some landowners feel it is so important that they aren't bugged during hunting season, maybe they will post their land "open" to hunting. Just an idea. Don't forget, the land is private property, its common courtesy to ask and get to know the landowner-help him out and he'll provide you with a place to hunt. At least thats how it is where I'm from.
 
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