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Ask a Conservation Officer: Rules for 'No Trespassing' signs

Q: One season I arrived at my posted hunting property to find a strange vehicle parked in the driveway. I called law enforcement, but when the officer arrived I was told that because I did not have my signature on my "No Trespassing" signs, there was nothing they could do. Isn't there some responsibility on the hunter for making sure they have permission when entering someone's land?

A: Hunters should have permission any time they enter the private land of another. Entering without permission is trespassing, and only weakens or destroys relationships with neighbors or landowners that may otherwise welcome hunters to their property. However, there are very specific requirements of a landowner in order to have a prosecution for trespassing on posted land.

First and foremost, there needs to be either a personal notification directly from the landowner to the trespasser in the previous year telling them that they are not welcome on the land, or the land has to be posted in a specific manner at least once a year.

In order to be considered legally posted, and therefore prosecutable for a violation, the land needs to be posted with signs saying, "No Trespassing" or similar terms. The letters of the sign need to be at least two inches in height, and the landowner's signature or name and phone number need to be included. The signs need to be posted either every 1,000 feet or less, or 500 feet or less in woody areas where the boundary lines are not clear, or on all primary corners and at all access roads and trails.

For more information about agricultural land and trespass law, see pages 8-11 of the 2017 MN Hunting Regulation Synopsis, or MN Statute 97B.001.

Matthew S. Miller is a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer with the Lake Superior Marine Unit. Send your questions to outdoors@duluthnews.com.

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