Idaho’s new trespass laws took effect July 1, and hunters, anglers and other sportsmen and women should be aware of what’s changed before they head into the field, but also what’s unchanged.
Before delving into the changes, there a few things to remember:
- You still need permission to be on private land.
- It’s the responsibility of the hunter/angler to know if they’re on private land.
- The laws affecting how landowners must post their property has changed.
- Fines have been stiffened for trespass violations.
There’s some confusion about the new law, but according to Idaho Fish and Game’s Enforcement Bureau Chief Greg Wooten, the basic principles are unchanged.
“Trespass laws have changed, but the core philosophies have not,” he said. “It’s still the sportsman’s responsibility to know when they’re on private property and obtain permission to be there.”
Among the biggest changes that could affect hunters and anglers in the field are new laws regarding how a landowner must post their land, which used to require no trespassing signs or orange paint every 660 feet, but that’s no longer the case.
Under the new law, a person should know land is private and they are not allowed without permission if:
The property is associated with a residence or business;
- Or cultivated;
- Or fenced or enclosed in a way that delineates the private property;
- Or unfenced and uncultivated but is posted with conspicuous “no trespassing’ signs or bright orange/ fluorescent paint at all property corners and boundaries where the property intersects navigable streams, roads, gates and rights-of-way entering the land and posted in a way that people can see the postings.
Note: if private property adjoins or is contained within public lands, the fence line adjacent to public land should be posted with “no trespassing signs” or bright orange or fluorescent paint at the corners of the fence adjoining public land and at all navigable streams, roads, gates and rights-of-way entering the private land from public land and posted in a way that people can see the postings.
People can use a variety of tools to determine whether they’re on public or private lands, including maps, GPS, software (some of which also shows private land ownership), smart phone apps, and more.
Hunters and anglers seeking permission to be on private lands should get written permission from the landowner. A permission form is available in the 2018 Big Game Season and Rules booklet, at Fish and Game offices, and at any county Sheriff’s office.
Other methods of permission are still legal, but written “is the most solid permission you can have,” Wooten said.
Sportsmen and women should also beware of increased penalties for trespassing. Hunters and anglers have long faced a mandatory one-year revocation of hunting and fishing privileges if they are convicted of trespassing while engaging those activities.
Mandatory license revocation continues under the law, but there are also steep fines for repeat offenders, and for a person convicted of trespassing three times within a 10-year period, there’s a minimum $5,000 fine, one to five year license suspension, and they could be charged with a felony.
To learn more about the new law, see Fish and Game’s 2018 Trespass Law webpage.