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State receiving reports of hunters trespassing

Staff Reports

The 2010 hunting season has just begun, but there have already been several reports of hunters trespassing, damaging private property and even releasing livestock from fences. Nevada is more than 80 percent public land, almost all of it open to hunting, but some sportsmen still mistakenly enter private property and should be more careful about trespassing.

“Most sportsmen are ethical and respect private property, but when we do get reports of trespassing or private property damage we take them seriously,” said Rob Buonamici, chief game warden for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. “We find that nearly all of these problems can be avoided if people use a little common sense while hunting or recreating outdoors.”

Meghan Brown, Executive Director of the Nevada Cattleman’s Association, added that respecting private property and developments is the key to future cooperation between user groups. “As sportsmen are scouting and hunting this fall it is important to remember that not all land in Nevada is public, and to respect signs, postings, and all private property. The Nevada Cattlemen’s Association strongly believes in the multiple uses of public land and feels that every user group should respect every other.”

A law passed in the 2007 Nevada Legislature clarified how landowners must mark their property boundaries if they don’t allow public access. NRS 207.200 states that landowners must provide sufficient warning by painting structures, natural objects or the top of fence posts with fluorescent orange on their property lines. Markings must be visible within the direct line of sight of a person standing next to another such structure, object or post. If the land is used for agriculture or livestock grazing the posts must be painted at intervals of no more than 1,000 feet, 200 feet if the land is used for other purposes. All corners, gates and cattle guards must also be marked. The structures, natural objects or posts are to be painted orange on the public land side of the fence and left unpainted on the private.

Regardless of fence markings, hunters should always exercise care, common sense and courtesy when it comes to hunting in areas that have a mix of public and private lands. Some tips to consider include:

• Have maps on hand that show boundaries of private and public lands. Scout hunting areas early, and, if there is any question of land ownership, err on the side of caution and don’t cross the fence or enter the property. Seek out the landowner or land management agency (BLM, Forest Service, etc.) for clarification.

• When crossing fences on public land, leave gates as they were found. Leave them open if they were already open or if closed, remember to shut them again. Never cut a fence, chain or lock, even if it’s blocking access. Ask the local sheriff or game warden if an area seems blocked illegally.

• To access private land, build a relationship with the landowner long before opening day. Many landowners give access if they know the hunter. These same landowners are often overrun by hunters during the season and may just say “no” to all requests, so visit them early in the year.

Nevada offers tremendous hunting opportunity and hunters can take advantage of the state’s vast public lands. At the same time, ranchers, farmers and other rural land owners utilize their land for recreation and profit and the infrastructure they utilize is important and valuable. Land owners safeguard their property to help realize their investments. These two sometimes competing interests do not have to be at odds if hunters exercise respect and courtesy.