MN written-permission bill would protect landowners and their dogs from hidden traps.
Post date: Feb 6, 2015 6:06:27 PM
Landowners are being surprised by traps, and people's dogs are being killed by those traps!
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 an unposted 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 driveway, to wait for the bus or to get the mail.
Dead dog. Heartbroken family. No trapper liability.
Landowners and dog lovers want a solution to this problem. One solution that's been proposed is to require written permission for trapping on private land, and that's the subject of this blog.
This blog begins with a general introduction, and then describes the 2015, 2017, and 2019 bills to require written landowner permission for trapping. It ends by referring to related information.
Good points of this 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 this 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.
Background of this bill: 2014 MN Statute 97B.001
- 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 an unposted ROW without landowner permission.
From the Minnesota Hunting & Trapping Regulations Handbook, 2014, p. 9:
"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 limitations in how "no trespassing" signs can be posted. For purposes of road maintenance, landowners are not allowed to post "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 the fact that--although these signs cannot be physically posted on the ROW--these signs do apply to the ROW (as well as the private land behind the signs).
(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 bill (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)
The (basic) 2015 bill, HF 2138 / SF 591, to require written landowner permission for trapping.
The (basic) bill was heard, refined, and favorably received (but not yet passed into law).
Unfortunately, the 2015 Game & Fish Bill never made it to a vote on the MN Senate floor. Instead, it was disassembled and reassembled, at least twice, each time with politically-oriented exclusions and inclusions, with portions of it (not including SF 591) finally ending up in an omnibus bill in special session. In short, through political manipulations by Senate leadership, SF 591 was "killed" without a floor vote.
Good news: the language of the 2015 bill SF 591 was improved and included in the 2016 Game & Fish Bill SF 2758 by Sen. Eaton's amendment A4 in the Senate Environment and Energy Committee meeting on 3/24/2016.
The improvement was to limit the written-permission requirement to "property that is not subject to a requirement to be open to the public." That is, written permission would not be required to trap on industrial-forest land that's open to the public through a conservation easement with the State of Minnesota.
Here's how the improved bill 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
The (improved) 2017 Bill, HF 1924 / SF 1390, to require written landowner permission for trapping.
The (improved) bill was heard and favorably received (but not yet passed into law).
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, SF 1390, was included in the MN Senate environment & natural resources omnibus bill SF 1723 and passed by the Senate on 3/29/2017.
Unfortunately, the omnibus bill wasn't passed in regular session, and didn't include SF 1390 in the special session.
Comparison of the (basic) 2015 bill to the (improved) 2017 bill.
Language of the (basic) 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.
Language of the (improved) 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.
The (improved) 2019 Bill, HF 880 / SF 842, to require written landowner permission for trapping.
The (improved) bill has been introduced for the 2019/2020 biennium. No news as of 3/1/2019.
- MN body-gripping trapping bill would help to protect dogs!
- MN body-gripping trapping-setback bill would help to protect dogs along roads and trails.
- What can we learn from the MN DNR Trap-Incident Reports?
- Thoughts on private-property trapping regulations.
- Trappers' double standard on private-property rights.