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Private land owners in Nevada often have a hot-cold relationship with hunters. Some hunters show proper courtesy by asking permission, always closing gates, and respecting private property. But others not so much – and ranchers, farmers and other landowners may sometimes wonder what they can do to deal with the issue.
Part of the problem in the past has been a lack of clarity in Nevada’s trespass statutes. Under existing law, someone commits trespass when “the person willfully goes upon any land after having been given sufficient warning not to trespass.” For many, the next question is, what is “sufficient warning?” A law that came out of the 2007 Nevada legislature adopted a system of marking property lines that delineate private land from public with the goal of helping landowners and hunters stay on “the right side of the law” and fence.
Orange side is public, unpainted side marks private land
NRS 207.200, sponsored by Assemblyman John Carpenter, R-Elko, states that landowners must provide sufficient warning by painting structures, natural objects or the top of fence posts on their property lines with fluorescent orange paint. 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/or 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. The idea is the fence markings will clearly show anyone in the area which side of the fence is open land and which side is off limits.
In addition, the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) encourages landowners who do allow hunting to post their land as open. “Landowners may obtain bright yellow signs from NDOW which remind hunters to leave gates as they find them and respect the land and the landowner who has permitted hunter access to public land,” said Connie Lee, NDOW landowner incentive coordinator. A photograph of the sign can be viewed on the NDOW Web site by clicking on ndow.org/wild/conservation/lip/.
Lee is also developing a pilot program to work proactively with landowners who provide access across or through their lands to public lands. Potential cooperative actions with landowners include signage, gate or road repair or the installation of cattle guards. Landowners interested in obtaining signs or participating in the access program can contact Lee at (775) 777-2392 or by visiting a regional NDOW office.
Regardless of how land is marked NDOW recommends that hunters always exercise care, common sense and courtesy when it comes to hunting in areas that have a mix of public and private lands:
- Have maps on hand in the field that clearly shows boundaries of private and public lands. Scout your hunting area early and if there is any question of land ownership, err on the side of caution, don’t’ cross the fence or enter the property and seek out the landowner or land management agency (BLM, Forest Service, etc.) for clarification.
- When crossing fences on public land, leave gates as you found them; open if they were open or if they were closed, close them behind you after you have passed.
- If you want access to or through private land, build a relationship with the landowner(s) before opening day. Many landowners will give access if they know the person, but these same landowners can be overrun by hunters seeking permission during the season and may just say no to all comers. Visit the landowner early in the year, introduce yourself and perhaps offer something in return for access.
Ranchers, farmers and other rural landowners are out there on the land every day trying to make a living. They know the local wildlife resources and may have recommendations of places to hunt, if they and their lands are treated with respect.
The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) protects, restores and manages fish and wildlife, and promotes fishing, hunting, and boating safety. NDOW’s wildlife and habitat conservation efforts are primarily funded by sportsmen’s license and conservation fees and a federal surcharge on hunting and fishing gear. Support wildlife and habitat conservation in Nevada by purchasing a hunting, fishing, or combination license. For more information, visit www.ndow.org.
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