As the fall’s cooler temperatures are starting to appear each morning, I can hardly wait for the hot weather to disappear. It has been a summer to remember for most livestock producers in the West.
Here in Wyoming, our primary election is over. The election, coupled with all the national issues we hear about every day, have left us all a little numb. The good news is, those in agriculture are an optimistic bunch and know down the road, times will be better.
A couple of large issues affecting us in Wyoming could affect others in public lands states. We all should be aware of these issues and the need to let our concerns be heard.
One of those issues is the trespassing bills the Joint Judiciary Interim Committee is discussing on Sept. 13, at 8:35 a.m. in Casper. While last spring the committee decided not to take up a review and change the antiquated Wyoming trespassing laws, they are discussing state laws on drones and voyeurism, prohibiting travel across private land for hunting purposes, repeal of the adjacent land resource data trespass, defining aircraft for purposes of hunting purposes and trespass by small unmanned aircraft.
Some of these items are just cleaning up old legislation and making a law to coincide with Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) regulations. The main one is on the use of drones.
We do need to visit with our legislators and those on the Judiciary Committee about the Wyoming trespassing laws. They were written years ago, and people respected private lands in those days. Nowadays, some think if they have an ATV or side-by-side, they can go anywhere they want.
If they get caught, they can just lie their way out of the situation. In order to prosecute someone for trespassing, landowners have to have posted on all the gates and the trespasser refuses to leave.
WGFD hunting regulations place the responsibility of knowing where one is at on the hunter or fisherman. In the modern day of GPS instruments, this should be included in Wyoming law also. The fines for convicted trespassers should be at the amount to penalize and get the attention of all.
Those who live in urban areas should be aware the trespass law for rural areas applies the same for urban areas. I can walk into their backyards if they don’t have a private land or no trespassing sign on the gate. Farmers and ranchers just have bigger backyards.
The other issue we all should be aware of is the corner crossing case recently assigned to a federal court. Some may think it only applies to checkerboard lands in southern Wyoming, but in reality, it applies to private lands all over the state, and since the case is in a federal court, it applies to all Western states. That is a huge concern for Western ranchers.
Whether one considers private lands a privilege or a right, they are just that, private. It is a property we own and care for. We can share them with our permission, but it still is our property. Everyone needs to respect these private lands; we’re taking care of them for our children.