Is it legal for a conservation officer to trespass on private property without probable cause?

I was hunting on private property about a mile off of any road when a conservation officer stumbled across me and checked my license and tag. I informed him that he was on private property without landowner permission and that he was trespassing because he had no probable cause. He told me that he wasn't trespassing and it was legal for him to come on private property with out permission.


In Idaho, wildlife is considered property that the state manages on behalf of its citizens. There is a public interest in ensuring people are complying with state laws related to hunting, fishing, and trapping on both public and private land, so that Idahoans can enjoy hunting and other wildlife-related activities now and into the future.  Trespass law does not generally apply to law enforcement officers and other public officials who may access outdoor areas on private lands (often referred to as "open fields," although the outdoor area doesn't have to be a field; the legal concept of "open fields" includes forests).  Law enforcement officers need a warrant supported by probable cause to enter someone's home and the area immediately surrounding the home, but they do not need a warrant to enter "open fields" away from the home.  The U.S. Supreme Court and Idaho Supreme Court have concluded that individuals do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy or freedom from government intrusion in "open fields."   Idaho Fish and Game conservation officers do not need probable cause of a violation or landowner permisson to enter an "open field" to check compliance and detect violations of hunting, fishing, and trapping laws.

Answered on: 
Wednesday, May 21, 2014 - 12:08 PM MDT