A few years ago, Wyoming made national news with a disagreement between a landowner and a group of hunters. The landowner’s land is broken up by several sections of public land interspersed in the checkerboard pattern that dots much of our state. That checkerboard results in many acres of land in our state that are technically public land, but they’re inaccessible because they’re surrounded on their flat sides by private land, and only meet other public sections at their corners.
In theory, you can cross from one public section to another at those corners without ever setting foot on the private land. Global positioning technology has made it easier to do that without violating trespassing laws, because you can find out with a great deal of accuracy where exactly on the Earth you are. And some hunters used that technology – along with an A-frame ladder they designed – to cross from one corner of public land to the next without physically touching the private land around it.
But the landowner objected to their trespass, and he pressed charges on the hunters. Wyoming law states you can’t travel through private land without permission to hunt, but it doesn’t say you can’t go over the corner. It also doesn’t say you CAN go over the corner. That ambiguity is the subject of House Bill 103 this legislative session. The bill will make it clear that going over the corner would be legal, if you do not touch any private land in the process.
Keep up to date on the progress of the bill on the Wyoming LSO website, and let your legislators know what you think about the proposed legislation. It will open up more land to hunt, but it could also make things a bit more difficult for landowners. Speak up and let the lawmakers know what you think.