Committee looks at giving game wardens the ability to cite for trespassing
The joint judiciary legislative committee discussed a bill that would allow game wardens to cite trespassing hunters on private property. The draft bill says traveling through private property without the owner's permission to collect antlers, hunt or fish would be punishable by a misdemeanor.
Rick King, chief of wildlife and chief game warden with the Wyoming Game and Fish, said their office would still need to investigate if a trespasser had intent to hunt, fish or collect antlers and present enough proof. If that proof is not met, or if the case becomes about only trespassing the case is brought to the county.
“At that point we would continue to gather information but at that point it would have to be turned over to the sheriff's office,” said King.
Game and Fish said it is the public's responsibility to know if they are on private land, and land owners are not required to post signage.
Teton County Representative Mike Yin said he's concerned the definitions between criminal trespass laws and this new trespass law are too different.
“So, criminal trespass requires that the person is guilty when they know they are not authorized to do so, either by personal communication or posting of sign,” he said. “In the Title 23 we are granting to game wardens, those requirements are not there.”
While the criminal law specifically gives notice to the alleged trespasser, this new bill would not require notice to those engaging in hunting, fishing, or looking for antlers. But the game warden would still have to prove trespassing occurred.
This bill includes if someone is moving through private property on the way to or after hunting, fishing or antler collecting had occurred.
The bill will be discussed again at the third joint judiciary committee meeting in October.