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Posted: State DEC’s hunting regulations put burden of knowledge on landowner

State DEC’s hunting regulations put burden of knowledge on landowner

A posted sign warns hunters that they are encroaching private property.

A posted sign warns hunters that they are encroaching private property. Photo by Amanda Wada.

According to the Department of Environmental Conservation, Hunters have a right to enter land that is “unimproved, apparently unused and unfenced (or not otherwise enclosed to exclude intruders).” This can pose a problem for property owners who do not want hunters trespassing on their land.

“You have to spend a lot of time and money posting your property,” said David MacKaig, a landowner in Elbridge.

DEC posting information for landowners, boaters, fishermen, and hunters

“People who want to control access to their property without personally seeing everyone who enters may post signs warning people to keep out. This may be done with simple "Keep Out" signs under the Penal Law, but for rural properties with many possible points of entry, a few signs may not be effective. Where activities such as hunting, fishing and trapping are concerned, the Environmental Conservation Law provides more specific guidelines which make posting more effective.”

“At least one sign must be set on each side of the protected area and on each side of all corners that can be reasonably identified. Signs shall be no more than 660 feet apart, close to or along the boundaries of the protected area. Since the signs must be conspicuous, they should be high enough, and spaced closely enough to be seen. Please don't turn your property into an eyesore by using more signs than are necessary.”

Like many landowners, MacKaig posts his property to keep hunters off his land. Posted signs on the corners and obvious access points of the property generally get the point across, said MacKaig, but in some instances disagreements about the rules can lead to awkward conversations.

“Our property has a railroad right-of-way that goes right through the center of it,” he said. “A high percentage of people think that that’s public access, and it isn’t. It causes us almost embarrassing situations where people are trespassing and they don’t realize it.”

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