Whether hunting, fishing, trapping or hiking, it’s important that nature enthusiasts of all kinds ensure they are legally allowed to be on the property they use.
Trespassing is illegal and the consequences can be severe, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC).
Gary Cravens, MDC’s protection regional supervisor, said trespassing laws in Missouri speak to both the landowner and the potential trespasser.
First, landowners must mark their property lines with signs or purple paint, to alert hunters and others of where the property line is. Second, it’s the duty of the hunter to either gain permission to cross into the property boundary or to recognize the property line and steer clear.
State Statute 578.520 states that permission is needed before anyone may fish, hunt or trap on private land.
“This includes retrieving harvested wildlife from private land,” Cravens said.
According to the statute, any person who knowingly enters or remains on private property for the purpose of hunting, fishing, trapping or retrieving wildlife is in violation of the statute and will not only be subject to the penalty of a class B misdemeanor, they may also be required by the court to surrender and deliver any license or permit issued by the Department of Conservation to hunt, fish or trap.
The court will then notify the Conservation Commission of any conviction under this statute and request the commission to revoke all privileges to hunt, fish or trap for at least one year from the date of conviction.
“Fines and loss of hunting and fishing licenses are the legal consequences to trespassing, but these laws and consequences help to protect everyone during the hunting season,” Cravens said.
The laws help to ensure multiple hunters aren’t unknowingly hunting the same area or that private landowners can expect to safely use their property without the concern of being surprised by a hunter during deer season.
Additionally, Cravens said there are many public- owned conservation areas in Missouri with hunting opportunities. The Conservation Atlas with information on those areas can be found on the MDC website at www.mdc.mo.gov.