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New MN trapping bill would require landowner permission

posted Feb 6, 2015, 10:06 AM by Scott Slocum   [ updated Apr 2, 2017, 4:01 PM ]
People's dogs are being killed by traps that are set--surprise!--without permission or notification--on their land! Perhaps the biggest part of this problem is in the ditches along the roads. Many of these ditches are public road rights-of-way (ROW) on private land. Minnesota Statute allows the use of unposted private lands--including these rights of way--for "outdoor recreation" including hunting and trapping. Although it would be illegal for a hunter to discharge a firearm on a ROW, it remains legal for a trapper to set traps there. And it remains legal for a trapper to kill a dog that's out with its family for a walk along a country road, or to kill a dog that's come out with its family to the end of their long driveway, to wait for the bus or to get the mail. Dead dog. Heartbroken family. No trapper liability.

A partial solution to that problem was introduced in the 2015 MN Senate bill SF 591, which has since been heard, refined, and favorably received (but not yet passed into law).

Update: 3/30/2017

Good news: two bills have been introduced in the Minnesota legislature for the new biennium: the basic HF 1931 /  SF 9 and the improved HF 1924 / SF 1390.

The latter was included in the MN Senate environment & natural resources omnibus bill and passed by the Senate on 3/30/2017.

Update: 3/24/2016

Good news: the language of 2015 SF 591 was included in 2016 SF 2758 as Sen. Eaton's amendment A4 in the Senate Environment and Energy Committee meeting on 3/24/2016. It was then improved to limit it to "property that is not subject to a requirement to be open to the public."

Here's how it looked in the 2016 Game & Fish Bill SF 2758 after the first engrossment on 3/29/2016:

Sec. 13. [97B.929] PLACING TRAPS OR SNARES ON PRIVATE LAND; WRITTEN PERMISSION REQUIRED.

A person may not set or place a trap or snare on private property that is not subject to a requirement to be open to the public, other than property owned or occupied by the person, unless the person has the written permission of the owner, occupant, or lessee of the private property. This section includes, but is not limited to, written permission to access private property from waters of the state when the trap or snare is placed or staked in the water.

Description of the 2015 bill

Bill number MN 2015 SF 591.
Bill title Trapping without written permission on private land not posted prohibition.
Bill summary the bill would require trappers to get landowner permission before trapping on unposted private lands.
Bill author and co-authors MN Senators Wiger, Marty, Sieben, and Benson.
Bill URL https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/bill.php?b=senate&f=SF591&ssn=0&y=2015


Bill numberMN 2015 HF 2138.
Bill titleTrapping without written permission on private land that is not posted prohibited
Bill summarythe bill would require trappers to get landowner permission before trapping on unposted private lands.
Bill author and co-authorsMN Representatives Fischer, Selcer, Youakim, Hausman, and Slocum.
Bill URLhttps://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/bill.php?f=HF2138&y=2015&ssn=0&b=house

Language of the 2017 bill

Minnesota Statutes 2016, section 97B.001, is amended by adding a subdivision to read:
 
Subd. 9.  Placing traps or snares on private land; written permission required.  A person may not set or place a trap or snare on private property that is not subject to a requirement to be open to the public, other than property owned or occupied by the person, unless the person has the written permission of the owner, occupant, or lessee of the private property.  This subdivision includes, but is not limited to, written permission to access private property from waters of the state when the trap or snare is placed or staked in the water.

Language of the 2015 bill

Minnesota Statutes 2014, section 97B.001, is amended by adding a subdivision to read as follows:

Subd. 9. Trapping. A person may not, without written permission of the owner, occupant, or lessee, enter private land that is not posted under subdivision 4 to engage in trapping activities.

Good points of the bill

This bill would help to solve one problem with trapping: it would require landowner permission to trap on unposted private property--and that would be a good thing.

Limitations of the bill

This bill would not solve all of the problems with trapping. For example, it would not require landowner permission to trap on a public road right-of-way ROW.

It would leave the controversial, confusing, and dangerous problem of trapping along roads as it is. We need additional legislation (e.g. SF 1070 / HF 1070) to solve that problem.

Related bills
Background of the bill: 2014 MN Statute 97B.001

MN Statute 97B.001: Trespass.
  • Defines the term "Outdoor Recreation." 
  • Defines the term "Agricultural Land." 
  • Allows access to private land for outdoor recreation--with the following restrictions.
    • Requires landowner permission for outdoor-recreation access to agricultural land.
    • Requires landowner permission for outdoor-recreation access to posted land.
    • Specifies how landowners may personally notify individuals to restrict outdoor-recreation access.
    • Specifies how landowners may post their private land to restrict outdoor-recreation access.
    • Allows hunters to retrieve wounded game and hunting dogs.
    • Prohibits firearm discharge near occupied buildings and corrals.
    • Prohibits the taking of wildlife on land where the person is prohibited from entering.
    • Regulates individual behavior in outdoor recreation with the following restrictions:
      • Prohibits the wounding or killing of another person's domestic animal.
      • Prohibits the damaging of fences, buildings, grain, crops, live trees, or signs.
      • Requires a person passing through a closed gate to return it to the closed position.
The next Section of MN Statute, 97B.002, sets penalties for civil trespass.

Not addressed by this bill: the State of Minnesota allows trapping on the ROW without landowner permission.


"Road Right-of-Way: some road right-of-ways are not owned by a unit of government. In these instances the landowner has granted an easement for vehicle and foot travel. The landowner generally retains authority to restrict access for hunting or trapping and may prohibit trespass by posting the land or by verbally directing hunters and trappers to leave the easement." 

In other words, unless Minnesota landowners post their land "no trapping" or "no trespassing"--and unless County or City Ordinances further restrict trapping in the ROW--Minnesota trappers do not need landowner permission to trap in the ROW. 

Apparently there's a gray area here, related to the method of posting. For purposes of road maintenance, landowners are not allowed to post "no trapping" or "no trespassing" signs on the ROW. The closest to the road these signs can be posted is outside of the ROW. Some trappers fail to recognize that, although these signs cannot be physically posted on the ROW, these signs do apply to the ROW (as well as the land behind it).

(The blogger doesn't have a reference yet to the MN Statutes and/or MN DNR Rules that are quoted here by the MN Hunting & Trapping Regulations Handbook. If anyone can illuminate any part or all of this gray area, please let the blogger know).


Could be addressed by this or another bill: other States allow trapping on the ROW only with landowner permission.

Wisconsin requires landowner permission.

From the Wisconsin Trapping Regulations, 2014, p. 5:

"Trapping Along Roadsides: permission to trap road right-of-ways can be a complex issue. Highway right-of-ways are established to provide areas for vehicle and sometimes pedestrian travel and not for the purpose of trapping. Most are owned by either the state or the local unit of government; however in some cases the adjoining landowner still maintains ownership of the underlying land. Trappers must have permission from the owner of the land underlying any public road, street or highway right-of-way areas before trapping these locations."


Diagram of a public road right-of-way (ROW)

SD_GFP_HuntingOnPublicRoadRightsOfWay_Diagram

Diagram of a public road right-of-way (ROW) across private land. Source: SD hunting regulations.