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Game Warden's Power?

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Messages posted to thread:
Chris Durando 28-Nov-09
Bou'bound 28-Nov-09
bb 28-Nov-09
George Stamps 28-Nov-09
wifishkiller 28-Nov-09
TaxCollector 28-Nov-09
wifishkiller 28-Nov-09
lareva 28-Nov-09
Wages 28-Nov-09
crow3 28-Nov-09
zipper 28-Nov-09
crankn101 28-Nov-09
Bou'bound 28-Nov-09
TaxCollector 28-Nov-09
wifishkiller 28-Nov-09
AdamX3 28-Nov-09
crankn101 28-Nov-09
badlander 28-Nov-09
crankn101 28-Nov-09
Chris Durando 28-Nov-09
wifishkiller 28-Nov-09
kellyharris 28-Nov-09
sikahunter 28-Nov-09
jfish 28-Nov-09
wifishkiller 28-Nov-09
bowriter 29-Nov-09
lareva 29-Nov-09
Troy/OK 29-Nov-09
zoomie41 29-Nov-09
hpd503 29-Nov-09
Bou'bound 29-Nov-09
TXHunter 29-Nov-09
13 points 29-Nov-09
Rob 29-Nov-09
HeadHunter®........ 29-Nov-09
hpd503 29-Nov-09
stripe55 29-Nov-09
Pat C. 29-Nov-09
Genesis 29-Nov-09
LW 29-Nov-09
lareva 29-Nov-09
BingoFlyer 29-Nov-09
tonyo6302 29-Nov-09
FXRScotty 29-Nov-09
Bowfreak 29-Nov-09
AZOnecam 29-Nov-09
scentman 29-Nov-09
Charlie Rehor 29-Nov-09
howler 29-Nov-09
fuzzy 30-Nov-09
JTV 30-Nov-09
Taylor 30-Nov-09
bb 30-Nov-09
Owl 30-Nov-09
scentman 30-Nov-09
gobbler 30-Nov-09
Ollie 30-Nov-09
Kurt in Memphis 30-Nov-09
steelersman 30-Nov-09
bb 30-Nov-09
Straight —» Arrow 30-Nov-09
Roger Norris 30-Nov-09
wyobowhunter 30-Nov-09
LW 30-Nov-09
adkman 30-Nov-09
bb 30-Nov-09
LW 30-Nov-09
acadianarcher 30-Nov-09
lareva 30-Nov-09
Chris Durando 30-Nov-09
LW 30-Nov-09
bb 30-Nov-09
TD 30-Nov-09
Sharp Stick 30-Nov-09
Hit-or-Miss 30-Nov-09
bb 30-Nov-09
spur 30-Nov-09
glacial21 30-Nov-09
Trophy8 30-Nov-09
LW 01-Dec-09
wifishkiller 01-Dec-09
Chris Durando 01-Dec-09
ScruffyMan 01-Dec-09
Purdue 01-Dec-09
LW 01-Dec-09
fuzzy 01-Dec-09
Wapitik 01-Dec-09
jhelton 01-Dec-09
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From: Chris Durando Date: 28-Nov-09
I am fortunate to own a small but private, posted property here in Southwest Virginia where I bowhunt only. I have only seen two people on it in the 4 1/2 years I have lived here (my house sits at the top of the mountain property) and I spend a lot of time in my stands/blinds. Both times it was the same game warden. I asked him if he is allowed to trespass across people's property and he said "yes, I am a game warden so I can go anywhere in the woods without permission." Is this true? As a bowhunter who takes great pride in closely following the game laws, I appreciate wardens taking care of poachers, etc but do not appreciate this guy popping up and scaring off my game when he's on "foot patrol." Did not know if I just have to tolerate him coming and going on my property as he pleases or if I should call the Sheriff's office and report an armed trespasser the next time I see him traipsing through my land.

From: Bou'bound Date: 28-Nov-09
if you asked him that and that way my hunch is you'll see him more than twice in the next 4 1/2 years. really the guy will do you and your property more good than possiubly scaring a few deer every few years if you let him do his job and treat him like you appreciate it.

what better way to protect your property than to have the locals know you and the CO are buddies and you welcome him to patrol your land. heck, you should be inviting him to hunt if he wants. he proably would never take you up on it, but it would go miles in terms of the relationship.

From: bb Date: 28-Nov-09
Grant makes a good point, nothing wrong with befriending the local C/O. On the other hand I would have a general principles issue with him showing up and wandering around on my property when he feels like it. I would have to think long and hard about which would win out.

From: George Stamps Date: 28-Nov-09
The CO is correct. He has all the powers of any other law enforcement officer.

From: wifishkiller Date: 28-Nov-09
I'd see if you can get a hold of him. If he is around there is a reason for it. Maybe you can help him/yourself out with a few nice words.

From: TaxCollector Date: 28-Nov-09
The short answer is ABSOLUTELY no, the game warden (or any other peace office/govn't official) does not have the authority to enter private property at will. There are, of course, specific instances where a peace officer does have that authority. One; he has Probable Cause to believe a crime is being committed, or two; he has a warrant. Acts of emergencies such as fire, flood, etc are also exemptions(see probable cause).

He, is in fact, trespassing and subject to arrest. Now, that being said, depending on the relationship you want with the warden you may want to consider granting written permission. However, no way no how allow him to trespass absent your approval. Trust me, many Wardens(nationwide) are under the mistaken belief they are somehow magically exempt from the US Constitution.

From: wifishkiller Date: 28-Nov-09
Not sure what laws are like by you but a Peace Officer can contact people without Probable Cause! They can not enter your house/car without PC(depending on the crime)/warrant but they can contact you on your property(at least here in Colorado) A Peace Officer needs Probable Cause to arrest thats it.

From: lareva Date: 28-Nov-09
The rights of any "law enforcement" Officer to enter private land depends on what state he/she is in and what powers have been given to him by the people. "Your state Reps and Senators.' Any CO in Missouri has a right to enter private property in which he has a reason to believe, probable cause, that someone may be pursuing wildlife. He has a right to check for proper license or wildlife taken to determine the legality thereof.It must be in the line of his/her duty.

AS BB has affirmed, maybe you should be-friend him and then have a nice friendly chat with him about the problem as you see it. Any good Officer will certainly be willing to discuss and explain his reason for being there. I am not naive to know that there can be a "bad apple' in any barrel but by in large, they want to be your friend and help you in any way they can. Think about it and have a great day. lareva (retired CO)

From: Wages Date: 28-Nov-09
I grew up in the county lareva used to work, and used to see his pickup and him around quite often. We were always glad to see him out there keeping people honest. I can't imagine how much more b.s. we would have had to put up with, had he not made a visible presence. (Thanks Larry)

I'd say Bou'bound and BB, and others have the right idea.

From: crow3 Date: 28-Nov-09
If he was not allowed on private property there is no way he could do his job. That being said, State laws may differ. Check it out.

From: zipper Date: 28-Nov-09
Game Warden's powers come from Civil law not criminal law, thus they have much more leeway in enforcing fish and game violations. In a civil court the burdens of proof are easier met than in a criminal court. In most states if a game warden believes that hunting is occuring on private property he can enter to investigate. In NJ all law enforcement officers can enforce Title 23 ( Fish and Game Laws)

From: crankn101 Date: 28-Nov-09
Dont know the law, dont really care. But if a warden was just walkin around my huntin ground for no reason and spooked a big deer out from under me, it would hit the fan.

From: Bou'bound Date: 28-Nov-09
"Dont know the law, dont really care. But if a warden was just walkin around my huntin ground for no reason and spooked a big deer out from under me, it would hit the fan. "

I'm sure that would work out real well for you. You'd show him!

From: TaxCollector Date: 28-Nov-09
Not to be too argumentative, but. It does not matter what state that Peace Office is in(as long as its in the USA)they cannot enter private property(house, boat, yard, farm, ranch, etc) w/o probable cause or a warrant. Period. Not a Game Warden, a Deputy Sheriff, an IRS agent or the FBI. Do they? yes, all the time. Can they legally? No. Also, Probable Cause is not 'reason to believe'. That misinterpretation of PC has fallen short too many times in too many courts to list. What Is Probable Cause? Probable Cause refers to facts or evidence that would make a reasonable person believe that a crime or wrong doing has been, is or will be committed.

Probable cause must be based on factual evidence and not just on suspicion.

Most probable cause sources can be placed into four categories. These categories are:

* Observation – This is information that the officer obtains through their senses, such as sight, smell or hearing. This category is also used when an officer detects a familiar pattern of criminal activity that contains suspicious behaviors (i.e., flashing headlights, circling around a certain neighborhood.)

* Expertise – These are skills that officers are specially trained in, such as: being able to read gang graffiti and tattoos, detecting tools that are used in burglaries or knowing when certain movements or gestures indicate that a criminal activity is about to occur.

* Information – Statements provided by witnesses and victims, information provided by informants, and announcements made through police bulletins and broadcasts.

* Circumstantial Evidence – This is indirect evidence that implies that a crime has occurred but does not directly prove it.

While there are some sources of probable cause that need to be supplemented by other sources, some sources are sufficient enough to stand on their own. In United States criminal law, probable cause refers to the standard by which a police officer has the authority to make an arrest, conduct a personal or property search, or to obtain a warrant for arrest. It is also used to refer to the standard to which a grand jury believes that a crime has been committed. This term comes from the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution(net definition, et al.). I ask you, did/does that Warden have probable Cause? (based on above)Just thinking someone might be hunting ain't gonna fly. What it will do and has done is set bad court case precedence. Also, not to be too technical, but, the people retain the right, not the gov'mt. Rights are not 'given' to Peace Officers by anyone. Powers are given, as long as those powers do not conflict with the Peoples Rights. Yes, a Peace Officer can have consentual contact with a citizen, however, cannot enter the private property absent consent, PC or a warrant to do so.

Here's the long and the short of it. No doubt this Warden believes he has the "right" to enter your property. He probably believes this based on whatever misinterpretation of PC he gained in the academy and the field. I'm sure he was trained by his FTO that he could do what he does cause thats the way it's always been done. Trust me, that 'training' is common. If your comfortable with this, great. If your not, write a letter to the guys department advising them they are not to enter your property absent PC, a warrant or your permission. The Warden is going to contact you and explain his reason for wanting to enter your property-although he still may 'believe' he has that 'right'. At that time make up your mind if you want to grant that permission. If not tell him so. If he trespasses again after that, call the local Sheriff's dept and arrest the guy. Trust me, he and his department will learn what the reality of PC is PDQ.

I don't mean to come off sounding so harsh, however, the slippery slope is a very real thing. You have the RIGHT to have an officer of the law obey the law, the Warden has the duty and obligation to insure he is not violating the very constitution he swore to uphold.

From: wifishkiller Date: 28-Nov-09
ladderstand, it's not easy! Unless a Peace Officer has extingent circumstances, or has a warrant they better have a good reason to enter a house!

From: AdamX3 Date: 28-Nov-09
I thought that they have to have a reasonable cause to go on private property???

From: crankn101 Date: 28-Nov-09
Bou-Like I said I dont know the laws for sure, but I can and will speak my mind. Then I would contact a superior and make sure I receive a copy of the incident.

From: badlander Date: 28-Nov-09
Ive never been in Virginia, but your CO situation down there either differs greatly from ND or MN where I spend most of my time. In MN, I know the 2 wardens that work my hunting area by name. I carry the most locals ones card in my wallet and use it a couple of times per season contact him about issues seen on or around my property.

I have never known these guys to just wander around the woods. Truthfully, I doubt they would have time for it. The only time they are out wandering is if they have suspicion of baiting, or abandoned animals, or something similar. VA may be different, just seems to me that a CO looking for random game violations would have better luck checking people at their vehicles, etc... They can check licenses at the vehicle, in the woods all they would do is tick you off as he clearly has done.

I'd try and get to know the guy, I wouldnt be surprised if you have a neighbor who has reported some type of specific illegal activity, or possibly they have identified something from the air - here it is usually baiting - that they are looking specifically for. Talk to him, maybe you'll put his mind at ease that the allegations are unfounded, or at least he'll tell you why he is there. Maybe your neighbors in the area have a recurring trespass issue that you are not aware of - who knows. I doubt he's just out to tick you off though.

From: crankn101 Date: 28-Nov-09
badlander-We dont have enough room for commonsense on the Internet. C'MON MAN!!!

From: Chris Durando Date: 28-Nov-09
Thanks for the input. He claims that he just goes in at one highway exit and walks all the way through everyone's property to the next exit as part of his patrol (4 mile walk). Happened today and last spring when I was sitting in my turkey blind I heard something creeping in from behind and it was him. A bit unnerving when you know you're the only one that is supposed to be out there and you see some dude in camo sneaking in on you. He looked at my bow and arrow, seemed surprised that I was using archery equipment for turkey, asked me if I was the guy whose name was all over the posted signs and kept walking. (You don't need a license hunting your own property in VA.) Of course I verified his name and position with DNR to make sure he wasn't an imposter or poacher. He's a nice enough guy, but doesn't mean I want him randomly prowling around. I guess I'm a bit old-fashioned in that I believe in respecting basic property rights. Will continue checking with the local authorities on exactly what is allowed locally. Sheriff's dept couldn't give me a straight answer today.

From: wifishkiller Date: 28-Nov-09
Here you guys go,

Reasonable suspicion is a legal standard in United States law that a person has been, is, or is about to be engaged in criminal activity based on specific and articulable facts and inferences. It is the basis for an investigatory or Terry stop by the police and requires less evidence than probable cause, the legal requirement for arrests and warrants. Reasonable suspicion is evaluated using the "reasonable person" or "reasonable officer" standard, in which said person in the same circumstances could reasonably believe a person has been, is, or is about to be engaged in criminal activity; such suspicion is not a mere hunch. Police may also, based solely on reasonable suspicion of a threat to safety, frisk a suspect for weapons, but not for contraband like drugs. A combination of particular facts, even if each is individually innocuous, can form the basis of reasonable suspicion.

In Terry v. Ohio, the Supreme Court ruled that a person can be stopped and frisked by a police officer based on a reasonable suspicion. Such a detention does not violate the Fourth Amendment prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizure. In Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada the court further established that a state may require, by law, that a person identify himself or herself to an officer during a stop. An arrest is not permitted based on reasonable suspicion; probable cause is required for an arrest. Further, a person is not required to answer any other questions during a Terry stop, and the detention must be brief. However if the officer's suspicions were correct and the situation escalates to a point of where the officer has probable cause, the officer can arrest the suspect.

From: kellyharris Date: 28-Nov-09
In Ohio the wildlife officer has more jurisdiction than any police officer... He/she and the state attorney general are the only folks allowed to arrestt the state govenor...

At my property the game warden called today to go write a citation to the trespasser we caught last week...

From: sikahunter Date: 28-Nov-09
As a State Game warden for the past 22 years Mr. Durando if you wish to send me a pm I'll try to explain the legal right of game wardens in most states to enter private property, and some of he reasons why. INSIDE Houses, cars, garages etc. have a much higher standard than land. What bou'bound,lareva,zipper,and badlander have said holds true.MOST wardens if given the opportunity will explain the the what's, where, and why.

From: jfish Date: 28-Nov-09
Wifishkiller has done a good job at clearing up the whole "Probable Cause" vs "Reasonable Suspicion". These two are aften confussed and what officers are allowed to do or not do depends on each set of standards. There are numerous additional State Laws that allow Va Wardens to inspect certain areas and things based solely on the fact your are in the field hunting or fishing. As strange as it may sound there are actually several codes that extend their ability to search/inspect beyond that which a normal police officer can when searching for general contraband. I too am baffled as to how these codes and practices have survived the Va Court of Appeals when compared against todays Supreme Court Standards regarding search and seizure? Right or wrong I can assure you that here in Va they do it. I have often thought maybe the only reason these cases have survived is due to no one ever pushing one to the top? Most are typical misdemeanor cases with simple hunters or fisherman on trial. If more of the cases were with defendants who were facing multiple felony charges with many years or big money on the line I feel certain the Va Game Dept would a few cases make it to the Big House.

From: wifishkiller Date: 28-Nov-09
+1 sikahunter

From: bowriter Date: 29-Nov-09
My hunting partner is a criminal court judge. Tax Collector is 100% correct.

HOWEVER:

Wildlife officers are often granted some leniency due to the nature of their work. Probable Cause is often quite flexible.

Best plan is meet the officer, take him to lunch and work it out. You'd be surprised how many of these guys get tips on illegal activites that are just phoned in by jealous neighbors. Still, they are obligated to check them out. I still get reported two or three times a year. I hunt and fish with asst. chief of law enforcement for our state agency.

From: lareva Date: 29-Nov-09
The original thread of this conversation had to do with being on the open property where the individual was hunting. That is certainly a different scenario than a man's home and buildings. At his private domain, his house and curtilage, the warrants are required unless invited in. Then, yes, your probable cause better be in order based on physical evidence present or what can be seen from where the officer has a legal right to be, then it is no longer considered concealed. Such as in a car. And that is another different ball of wax because of the possibility of it being moved before the officer can obtain a warrant. Then, according to the Supreme court, you may search incidental to the arrest. Which means, the individual will more than lackly be taken to jail while the warrant is being issued and another officer will stay with the car to see that it does not move.Or, the car can be towed,usually at the owner's expense, to an appropriate place and inventoried.All kinds of situations may exist there. lareva

P.S. Thanks Wages

From: Troy/OK Date: 29-Nov-09
sikahunter -- since you are a State Game Warden you should have more knowledge on this subject than anyone on here.

In my experience I have never seen a Game Warden enter private land to 'patrol'. I have seen them walk across private land directly to a group of individuals as well as drive onto private land (gate open) to talk to people he could see from the road. But I have never even heard of 'patrolling' through private land without permission.

Patrolling being defined here as entering and looking though the area without previous known subject or violation to investigate.

Does your state condone / encourage this?

~Troy

From: zoomie41 Date: 29-Nov-09
The best thing you could do is to get to know your local warden face to face. Put a name with the face you hear about. Next time a warden walks through your area talk to him and give him your phone number and ask him to give you a call and to see if you are out hunting so as not to spook your game. Other than that I wouldnt mind a warden keeping an eye on my property. Let others know that a warden walks through your property randomly and soon the word would get out and tresspassers will steer clear...

From: hpd503 Date: 29-Nov-09
While there have been some valid points about search and seizure and the 4th Amendment, in regards to ones person, home and curtilage, something that hasn't been brought up is the Open Field Doctrine.

Look up these cases if you want:

Hester v. United States

Katz v. U.S

Oliver v. United States

What it boils down to is the court says you have no expectation of privacy in an "Open Field". Therefore there can not be a violation or your 4th Amendment Rights. A LEO of any sort not need a Warrant to enter any open field in the performance of his/her duties.

Curtilage is another matter. The Curtilage is defined: as the outdoor area immediately surrounding the home. In United States v. Dunn, the court says, "An area is curtilage if it harbors the intimate activity associated with the sanctity of a man's home and the privacies of life."

As always it is best to consult experts in your area and not rely what you read on the Internet.

From: Bou'bound Date: 29-Nov-09
regardless of the law why tweak this guys nose for no reason. you won't win.

From: TXHunter Date: 29-Nov-09
I'm with Bou..

From: 13 points Date: 29-Nov-09
Make him a friend.......it will benfit you fer years.

From: Rob Date: 29-Nov-09
"I have only seen two people on it in the 4 1/2 years I have lived here (my house sits at the top of the mountain property) and I spend a lot of time in my stands/blinds. Both times it was the same game warden."

Ever think that the CO doing his job is the reason you've only seen HIM on your property. Twice in 4.5 years doesn't seem like an inconvenience to me.

Rob

From: HeadHunter®........ Date: 29-Nov-09
In Illinois, the Game Wardens have more rights than the State Police. They "CAN" come onto your property and check most anything with out a warrant...other than your house! In most instances Game Wardens are the friends of landowners and legal hunters!....the Bad Guys are the ones they are looking for!...In the past we have let State Game Wardens and Federal Fish & Wildlife hunt our property and also access other areas thru our property to uphold the laws.....they have a Thankless Job.....

From: hpd503 Date: 29-Nov-09
I agree with you also Boubound......just trying to get the correct information out there so that someone doesn't get in a pinch they don't need to be in, because unbelievably to me some people actually believe what they read on the Internet. and for once I actually had some accurate information to share.

It is interesting to me that the game warden in question makes walking this property as a "Routine" patrol. Clearly there is an issue in the area, first rule of directed patrol is to go where the problems are.

From: stripe55 Date: 29-Nov-09
My area of northern Wi and Mi UP are currently running with little to no warden activity. The boat landings are patroled for duck hunters and boating violators. The idea of randomly walking through ANY property, private or public, would raise some red flags for me. Legal? There are no two lawyers, no two judges, and certainly no two LEO's that would give you the same version of what is legal and appropriate. I have good friends of both the warden and sheriff type, hunt with both, and we talk about these things. There is not much agreement on what is legal. The one thing that stands out from my warden friend(and WDNR information bears out) is that there are nowhere near enough wardens to cover the areas we have, and that the same infestation of anti-hunters that plagues or DNR heirarche is taking root in the warden ranks. This wandering/patrolling would at best be a huge waste of precious time, and at worst be hunter harrassment, which our state constitution prohibits. That said, it is difficult for even the good wardens to keep on their smilie face, they deal with a lot of azzes. If I hadn't known this particular warden from a young age, I doubt he would have much time for me now. Our Constitution IS under attack on all fronts. It may not give anyone the warm-fuzzy they seek by pushing this issue, but I think our national and state hunting organizations need to stand up for us.

From: Pat C. Date: 29-Nov-09
I wrote a post on the Com Form about this same thing . called DNR in your area. We here in IA. have both ends of the gamitt Her in Black Hawk Co. We have a guy that thinks he can do what ever he wants when ever he wants, like serching a locked truck and harasing guys looking for a deer on private land!! On the other hand up in Allimakee Co. we were told by this DNR that he works for us, you are the state !! Untill you brack the law , your his boss!! I guess respect is one of the things that goes along way on both sides. one of the DNR officers earned our respect and the other one demands it!! And its like we were told its guys like the one in Black Hawk Co. that give the rest a bad name!! Pat C.

From: Genesis Date: 29-Nov-09
Chris,as others have said,I wouldn't miss out on the opportunity to cultivate a relationship as this guy seems very dedicated to his job and protecting "your" property.

I'd admit it's frustrating but at the end of the day what you want is more autonomy.A relationship of "trust" will get you that autonomy and may very well be mutually beneficial to the both of you.

These guys are stretched to the gills,so the first step is an honest appreciation,even if it stings a little.I promise it will trump calling superiors about his actions.

From: LW Date: 29-Nov-09
Wandering your place in turkey season with camoflouge on? How smart is this? If he thinks there are poachers in the area I would question his desire to live:)

I do try to cultivate a relationship with the CO in my area, even though we have never met. We have talked on the phone and he has access to keys to my place through the MDC office. He has been told he can check things out whenever he likes.

That being said, I'm also a big fan of the 4th Ammendment. I agree with what others have said, there is no right to access to your property by ANY LEO without cause. Some may say they do, but as mentioned above, a case probably has not been pushed far enough. I believe there are plenty, but our ignorance doesn't help. However, when this topic came up before, a good friend who is a lawyer and was a judge said he would not agree that COs have more rights about searching and would be inclined to challenge this if a client needed him to. Proper Cause must be just that. I don't think any law abiding LEO would or should have a problem with that, they should be some of our first defenders of the Constitution.

Lareva, I have always respected your opinion, but I think what I have just said is even recognized in MO. Purple Paint means posted property but it also gives COs the right to come on the property. There would be no need for this distinction from any other posted property if COs have unlimited rights. And if they do, I can tell you a couple of places to check as guys were shooting well past legal light and the "hunting" appeared to continue well after rifle season ended. There would be very little of this if LEOs could go where ever they wanted since MO has many more than most states.

I have always wondered about the guys claiming to agree with letting COs go any where. Is that just on this site for show? Do you agree they should be allowed to go any where for anything? I don't, and I don't see the difference just because it comes down to wildlife. Help the officers do their jobs by providing all of the necessary information, allow access to use robo-deer etc. But asking for your rights to be respected should not earn you the wrath of any LEO. And if it does, the problem is certainly not with you.

From: lareva Date: 29-Nov-09
Hi LW. In my career, I don't recall Officers just randomly "patroling" around on private property unless they have had "information" concerning possible violations that have been occurring there in the past or current info in regard to possible "baiting" that is going on, which, in Mo. is illegal to hunt over. They have not been against anyone "feeding" wildlife in critical times but not to hunt over that site while it is still baited.This is one example of ethics that the general public demanded of the MDC to enact such a regulation. lareva

From: BingoFlyer Date: 29-Nov-09
In Michigan they have MORE power than a State Trooper.

They can and will go onto private property, can write their own Search Warrants, etc.

This has never been a problem and the CO and our club get along just fine. May years ago he arranged to have 14 Turkeys released on our property and we now have several large groups.

He also has the keys to the property and keeps an eye out for anything that doesn't look right.

I also think he would not feel bad for writing a ticket if he found any of us in violation of any game laws, as it should be.

From: tonyo6302 Date: 29-Nov-09
Chris,

Send an email to the following address with your questions and concerns;

dgifweb@dgif.virginia.gov

I would trust no advice on this thread unless you know the person posting has passed the Virginia Bar Exam and is currently practicing law.

I have hunted in Virginia since 1996, and have never witnessed Game Wardens ( Conservation Officers ) entering private land without a warrant, invite, or permission.

Tony

From: FXRScotty Date: 29-Nov-09
Chris you huntin the Kings deer? I say politly ask if there is a reason for him to be there and if not ask him to respect your privicy and not mess up your hunt. Scotty.

From: Bowfreak Date: 29-Nov-09
Like others have stated maybe the CO had probable cause and was using your property as access to get at the real culprits? I don't know but, if that were the case, I thank that all of us would be willing to open up our arms to COs trying to do their job. Respect is reciprocal. You respect the job they are doing and they SHOULD respect the fact that many people follow game laws and are not criminals.

From: AZOnecam Date: 29-Nov-09
Great post and great replies. I think in the "big picture" you want him there doing his job. There have been many landowner threads here where guys are looking from help from game wardens to keep trespessers out. You can get to know him and show him where your stands are, and he'll probably try not to mess up your hunting while still doing his best to keep things legal in your area. Best wishes.

From: scentman Date: 29-Nov-09
Really? Some of you don't mind some one walking up to you when you have been on stand, say 4-5 hrs and says, "hey dude just checking to make sure all is well in this neck of the woods"... at prime time, on your day off from work? "Regardless of the law why tweak this guys nose for no reason. you wont win"??? Whenever I read stuff like that, I just shake my head. Most CO's will wait till an infraction has occured, then make their move to arrest.

From: Charlie Rehor Date: 29-Nov-09
When I bought my hunting land in 1984 it turned out the Game Warden lived next door(surprise)and he used to hunt my newly purchased land when he was younger. He "paid us a visit" each year the first couple years at different times and we always treated him respectfully and had our house in order. He explained he did not hunt any more because he now hunted hunters. After the third year we hardly ever saw him and when he did come up to visit it was a visit. He would tell us about the guys he busted around the corner and various other things they had done like restoring the turkeys. He always keep an eye on our property and we NEVER had people on our property that were not with us. He retired about 10 years ago. Best darn warden I ever knew!! Charlie

From: howler Date: 29-Nov-09
I'd set up a meeting and let them know that you don;t appreciate them sneaking around your private property. If they have reason to be there give you a call and you can give them permission. everyone has to obey the law in order for the law to mean something.

From: fuzzy Date: 30-Nov-09
Chris, sounds like tyou have an energetic, motivated CO. You are lucky.

From: JTV Date: 30-Nov-09
Here in Indiana a CO can come on to any property if he wants to check license's, check for baiting, illegal hunting, etc, they do not need a warrant.....they have the same power as our State Police plus the power to police our wildlife/water laws given to them by our legislature....they are welcome on my place anytime, good bunch of guys around here, many I have known for years or worked with ....Jeff

From: Taylor Date: 30-Nov-09
i dont think game wardens are a bad thing at all, they do more good than bad in my opinion. So what if they ruin one single hunt, You have the whole rest of the season.

From: bb Date: 30-Nov-09
"So what if they ruin one single hunt, You have the whole rest of the season."

Speaking personally, that wouldn't be the issue...I have a hard time swallowing the concept that it's OK for someone to just patrole your posted property in the name of law enforcement. It's going to take a lot of convincing for me to accept the legality of that. If the property wasn't posted, I could understand it but once it's posted I would argue that it's very clear as to the owners position on trespassing. I would have no issue with inviting the LEO to walk through the property and would even go so far as to show him around or invite him to hunt it, as long as I got the sense that he was an upstanding guy. But I would want the decision to be mine, as I believe it rightfully should be.

I think we are actually dealing with two separate issues, 1. the idea of general cooperation with the LAW enforcement in your area and 2. The legality of law enforcement routinely patrolling your private posted property without your permission.

From: Owl Date: 30-Nov-09
The frequency bothers me. I have hunted VA my entire life and I have only had one in-field encounter with a Game Warden. We have one Game Warden for every 3-4 counties and if I didn't occasionally bump into one at the local 7-11 getting a cup of joe, I would think they were as fictional as sasquatch.

Just talk to the man. Chances are your property borders a "zone of interest" and he is doing you a favor by keeping a high profile.

Having said that, I'm with bb on this. I would want to hear probable cause.

From: scentman Date: 30-Nov-09
Yes Charlie I agree, the CO in my area and myself are on a first name basis, though I do call him officer out of respect for his position. He and I have had discussions on this matter, when I first bought some property I had trouble with some guys tresspessing in and around our posted properties, I asked if he could go and inspect, he told me he would keep an eye but he did not want to ruin the hunt for the other law abiders on stand. He asked me "would you like if I trapsed past your stand opening day"? He got them coming out at the road... nice fella.

From: gobbler Date: 30-Nov-09
Why don't you call him and have a talk with him. Explain your position, and see what he says. I would try to work something out. The last thing you want is to piss him off. There may be some day when you really need his help, and it's a lot easier dealing with someone who's your friend than someone who's pissed off at you.

From: Ollie Date: 30-Nov-09
It wouldn't hurt to ask if there is anything in particular he is looking for as you want to cooperate and help him any way you can.

I would go out of my way to say anything to him that will get him mad as he may then decide to make it his mission in life to catch you doing something against the law so he can get you back. Any law enforcement officer can make life for you a living hell if they desire to do so. Search your vehicle every time you go by. Check your license every time they see you. Issue you a citation for making a rolling stop at an intersection at 4 am in the morning with no other vehicle in sight.

From: Kurt in Memphis Date: 30-Nov-09
Every year of the dove season opener, you can bet you will have a game warden come out to check every hunter's gun and license. This is on private property too. He just walks out into our field. No problem, it's hard to mess up a dove hunt.

Also, when I hunted wood ducks on state land, a game warden was always waiting at our trucks and checked, guns and licenses. Again, no problem.

2 years ago where I deer hunt (private property) the game warden released his dog near my friend's parked truck and the dog followed the scent trail to the base of the tree. Game warden proceeded to check his license. The dog aspect is a new one for my area, but I saw a game warden's ATV yesterday with a dog crate mounted to the back.

Seems like they do have a lot of authority to come and go as they please even if the land is posted and private. It happens all the time around here.

It would bother me if it was prime time and a warden walked up just to 'check my license.' It would be better to wait at my truck then to sneak up on my stand.

A friend had a warden come to his ground blind deer stand the other day. The warden really started hollering and holding up his badge around his neck when he saw a rifle pointed in his direction. It was not intentional, but the rifle was pointed out of the window b/c the warden sounded like approaching deer. Messed up his hunt for the morning.

From: steelersman Date: 30-Nov-09
Durado, I also live in Va....as far as I understand the game wardens have more power and jurisdiction then state troopers. I have been told they are allowed to search without warrents, trespass without permission...and even write speeding tickets if they wish...unfortunately i think he does have the right to come onto your property without your permission.

From: bb Date: 30-Nov-09
"I have been told they are allowed to search without warrents, trespass without permission.."

I find that incredible, Apparently our constitution means very little anymore. Maybe no one pushes back hard enough in these circumstances for fear of reprisal? It wouldn't surprise me, just look at some of the posts on this thread, to get an indication of mindset.

From: Straight —» Arrow Date: 30-Nov-09
The conservation agent in my county is one of my life long best drinking buddies and one heck of a great guy. They do not have all the authority of state police in my state but when it comes to enforcing game laws they can do a lot and that includes coming on your property any time they want. Best thing to do is get to be friends with them and insure they know you aren't the kind of hunter they are looking for.

From: Roger Norris Date: 30-Nov-09
I would treat him decent and expect the same. He is there for some reason.....find out why, and let him know you are one of he good guys...I don't break any laws, so i don't get worked up with LE being around.

From: wyobowhunter Date: 30-Nov-09
we had the choice of giving the dnr a key to our gates on our hunting club or not, we didn't have to if we didn't want

From: LW Date: 30-Nov-09
Guys,

I think many of you are way off base. bb, you are spot on. Parse the words of even the CO here and you will find the need for probable cause. Being worried an LEO will harass you for something? I'm glad many of you were not around when they decided the wording of our Constitution.

If they see you hunting from off of the property, that is different than just wandering around whenever they want. Do you let them in your house whenever they want also so you don't have to be afraid of them?

Writing their own search warrants. Why would they need a search warrant to do something they already decided to do? This is ridiculous.

I would like one Game Warden to come on this site, state their name and tell us they can go wherever they want on private property, whenever they want, with or without probable cause. I can think of a couple of organizations that would probably have a talk with their departments. State laws do not out-weigh the Constitution.

I'm betting they never want this decided in a public format where word would finally get out about their real powers.

Some will get the hint here; I'm "desperate" for an answer:)

From: adkman Date: 30-Nov-09
Here you go right from the horses mouth

Virginia Conservation Police Officers may enter private lands in an effort to obtain compliance of Virginia's wildlife laws. This may involve information from third parties, the visual / auditory stimuli from hunting activities or knowledge of evidence from previous criminal activities, etc. A search warrant or verbal permission, etc. would be required to search a person's curtilage (the area of land occupied by a dwelling and its yard and outbuildings, actually enclosed or considered as enclosed) for evidence that is not considered to be in plain sight. Captain K. C. Clarke Virginia Conservation Police Department of Game & Inland Fisheries Region IV, Law Enforcement Division P. O. Box 996 Verona, VA. 24482 (540) 248-9360

From: bb Date: 30-Nov-09
I don't read this to mean they can just routinely patrol private property. There has to be a reason other than they just feel like it.

From: LW Date: 30-Nov-09
adkman,

I hope you understand that is saying with cause. The cause being information or observation or from past evidence. That is not the same as wandering around.

From: acadianarcher Date: 30-Nov-09
It doesn't say Akman is requires a warrant to "wander" the back 40

From: lareva Date: 30-Nov-09
LW: In Missouri, we were not instructed to just randomly "wander" around on someone's property unless we have a reason to be there. Such as seeing hunting activity or based on reports of possible violations occurring from time to time. Yes, I did have properties that I could go and come as I desired but only with permission from the landowner or person in charge. As to authority, yes, the Agents do have more power than the Highway Patrol officers in regard to filing for and serving their on warrants. The HP can only serve warrants accompanied by a sheriff's department personnel or even help the Agents in doing so. However, the Department policy has always been for us to follow the same proceedures if possible. In regard to searching Domiciles or curtilage, we cannot do it without a warrant unless invited in by the occupant. Neither can any other law enforcement officer regardless of what state he is in. Supreme court does not allow that. lareva

From: Chris Durando Date: 30-Nov-09
Great debate! The fourth amendment may be dead in America but at least the first is alive and well! I have his contact info and will ask him again if there was anything he was looking for but last time he said he was just patrolling. My ground blind is a small, old barn and he said he saw it from the highway and was just checking it out! There is a gun hunting club a quarter mile directly beyond me where his foot patrol ends and he told me Saturday he was heading there. Hopefully now that firearms season is over he will turn his attention elswhere and figure out that I am keeping it legal. We were both cordial with one another (I knew him by name and he knows me as the "bowhunting doctor" but I think he could sense I wasn't too thrilled having to stop my hunt for a second time in one season to stand there talking out loud at my stand in the middle of the rut. Late archery started today, if I see him again this season, it will have gone beyond friendly policing and be a nuisance. I am probably moving in less than a year so he'll have a lot of nothing to patrol next Fall anyways. Thanks to all!

From: LW Date: 30-Nov-09
Lareva,

You are saying exactly the same thing I have. You must have cause such as observing activity or reports. I never questioned whether or not your authority relative to other LEOs and other responsibilities was more or less. I obviously am no legal expert.

Question, your wording on "serving on warrants" does not mean the same as writing their own warrants. Are we saying the same here or is this a typo. I never directly asked the legal scholar about this item, but my hunch is that one can not write their own warrant. The purpose of warrants is to serve as a check and balance, which you obviously know better than I. Writing one's own warrant would bypass this protection IMO.

I knew about searching domiciles etc. This was just taking the point to an extreme.

I appreciate your participation here. It speaks volumes of your character. And I understand that having some vagueness may help in catching the bad guys. I hope you can understand and also appreciate my deep respect for adherence to the Constitution by all of us, most especially those with the power to abuse it.

I also hope you remember our communication regarding my property. I have shown all the respect I can by informing my CO he can go whenever he wants to my property, both privately and publically acknowledging this in fact. I hope he shows up someday while I am there so I can meet him and thank him for the under-appreciated job he does. I try not to waste his time by e-mailing him the folks that have my permission to be on my property so there will be no problems if he ever catches anyone, and I have provided this permission in writing to those involved.

Larry, I really appreciate the job all LEOs do. We have all been reminded today how difficult a job it is, and why most, including myself, would never want the job. That still doesn't change the fact of how I feel.

I hope everyone reads what was written here. Let's help these guys do their jobs, but also not allow the one or two bad apples to get away with things they should not.

As to the situation about this thread, my first thought was that this CO was probably checking into something and did not want anyone to find out lest the person being investigated was tipped off-intentionally or otherwise. I'd say if this is the case, more power to him but the LO should find out either way and he can do this without knowing the specifics.

Thanks again Officer Lareva!

From: bb Date: 30-Nov-09
Here's how I see it. It appears that even in VA, the C/O can't wander around somebodys private property without cause. Now it becomes a matter of how important to you is it to exercise your rights. You never want to be bullied into giving up your rights but some times there are better fights to fight. In this case cooperation could play big dividends. Who knows, he may give you a tip about where a big buck has been lurking.

From: TD Date: 30-Nov-09
I'm with bb. Just because someone says they have the right to enter private property to "patrol" doesn't mean they actually do. I can't even imagine it being legal to go on private property with permission or without probable cause. Or in this case, no cause whatsoever. IMO that literally spits in the face of the constitution. It is in fact private property. He likely had no idea anyone was even hunting there. Probable cause?

Like finding a cop in your backyard wondering around "just looking" or peeking in your bedroom window. They can't do that just because they feel like it.

Yeah, if it were my hunt he screwed up I'd be upset. And like others said, he has no right to ruin anyone's hunt. If indeed he had cause, a tip, suspicious behavior, whatever, etc. fine, have at it, all in the course of doing your job.

I would talk to him, politely explain you are hunting and his being there messes it up. And you don't really want anyone just wandering around on your property without you knowing about it. Make friends and give him your cell number and tell him he's more than welcome to enter anytime he wants but to call you first. Just call first and let you know. Simple and respectful of another persons rights. If he were to persist I would say he's disrespecting both you and your rights. I would even consider filing a complaint if he continues.

The land owner is deserving of respect for his rights and is do at least common courtesy. To do otherwise is flat out disrespectful and rude. I wouldn't have any of it to be treated so. This isn't some 3rd world jackboot country where LEOs run the show. Well, at least not yet anyway.

From: Sharp Stick Date: 30-Nov-09
Just to stir the pot..... Minnesota had a Supreme Court ruling State v. Colosimo, were they ruled that the Game Wardens CAN search vehicle/boat WITH OUT consent if they belive they were engaged in hunting/fishing or transporting fish/game [WITHOUT PROBABLE CAUSE OF A VIOLATION]. NOT CONSISTANT WITH 4TH AMMENDMENT

{{copied for a William Mitchel Law Review}}

In State v. Colosimo, the Minnesota Supreme Court held that an expectation of privacy does not exist in a boat or other conveyance typically used to transport fish and it is therefore permissible for an armed conservation officer to conduct a nonconsensual inspection of the boat or other conveyance.1 In making its decision, the court relied upon Minnesota Statutes section 97A.251, subdivision 1(3),which provides that a person may not “refuse to allow inspection of a motor vehicle, boat or other conveyance used while taking or transporting wild animals.”2 The Minnesota Supreme Court’s decision authorizes searches of individuals absent any suspicion of criminal behavior or behavior in violation of state fishing regulations.3 By eliminating any requirement of suspicion of wrongdoing, the court allows searches based on an armed conservation officer’s whim, rather than a suspicion that an individual has engaged in conduct that violates Minnesota’s fishing and hunting laws.4 The decision permits searches based solely on a suspicion that an individual has been engaged in the lawful activity of fishing and/or transporting fish,5 opening the door to searches at the unbridled discretion of individual officers. The court’s decision is inconsistent with the Fourth Amendment prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures6 and with the court’s own recent decision in State v. Larsen,7 (more)

From: Hit-or-Miss Date: 30-Nov-09
In Maine, Game Wardens are considered the "top tier" of the law enforcement community. More power, although it is to be used judiciously. A very tough branch of law enforcement to get into.

Most of them are good men, and if you treat them with respect, and don't violate the fish and game laws, you in turn will be treated with respect.

However, IF you violate the law, may the Good Lord have mercy on your soul, because the Maine Game Warden and the Judge won't.

From: bb Date: 30-Nov-09
"Just to stir the pot..... Minnesota had a Supreme Court ruling"

The same state that put Al Franken in power? Need we say more?

From: spur Date: 30-Nov-09
he is just like any other law enforcement offcer he can not trespass on private prop. he is not alowed to come on prop. unless a law has been broken or has been invited by prop. owner.law enforcement people will do what you let them right or wrong unless he has a warrant he is trespassing

From: glacial21 Date: 30-Nov-09
In SD wardens can enter private property at any time it is referred to as the "open fields doctrine". They can't go into buildings without a warrent though. I'm fine with that.

From: Trophy8 Date: 30-Nov-09
I find it extremly funny how so many people who are not in law enforcement or attorneys know the law...yet the one post by a game warden explained his powers, yet most belive it to be untrue. State powers will differ from state to state, but over all a warden has a wide scope of powers within a state. A Police officer's scope of enforcement is different then CO powers (exception may be state police). A CO powers is to enforce game laws..statewide, be it check a license..and yes most can enter private property with "reasonable suspicion"/reasonable cause...that can be as ex: hearing more then 3 consecutive shots in states with a 3 shot limit/plug gun. Argue what you want, but the scope of enforcement is wider then most think... private property or not.

From: LW Date: 01-Dec-09
Trophy,

I don't know what responses you are referring to, but I believe all of us agree that with cause they can enter. Re-read what Lareva said. No cause, no entry for any LEO. They can not just wander your property without cause. Every example you cited would probably be cause. We are talking about a CO who just decides to wander property to see if there are any violations that he has no knowledge of prior to his "walk". Illegal-period.

From: wifishkiller Date: 01-Dec-09
This thread kills me.

From: Chris Durando Date: 01-Dec-09
Yeah, we better terminate this thread before someone gets hurt! :) Yes, my property is in a very visible place with my south border being a state road and my north border an interstate. East and West borders are my neighbors private property and they do not use it due to the difficult terrain. The first time he walked off the interstate down to my blind. The second time he came straight on from neighboring property. Next time I speak with him I will thank him for his service and kindly ask that he walks along the interstate on the state's right of way and not right under my stands. You can see my stands with binos from the interstate when the leaves are down if you knew they were there.

From: ScruffyMan Date: 01-Dec-09
I think people are getting confused in the difference of "power" and a "right". Hit-or-Miss says Maine wardens have more power????? I just retired from the Maine State Police after over 20 years. I had the "power" granted to me from the state to write speeding tickets, investigate murders,(Only the State Police and the cities of Portland and Bangor have this power) enforce hunting laws, enforce motor carrier rules etc. but I couldn't serve certian civil paperwork....i.e divorce papers. In Maine Deputies cant enforce motor carrier laws, investigate murders, but can serve civil process and enforce traffic and hunting laws. Wardens cant investigate murders ,but are tasked with invstigating hunting accidents and missing people in the woods, or serve divorce papers but can write speeding tickets etc.

Your state may be the same or different in the "powers" they grant to certain law enforcement departments. What NO state can do is give any department the ability to violate your "rights" as defined by your state constitution and the US Constitution. Having said that do some law enforcement departments violate those rights???? Probably but until it has been taken through the legal system it will not change. It can be almost impossible to take a search warrant case all the way to the US supreme court on a single case because the justices will not hear it unless it has an impact on for the entire US. The supreme court cant review 10,000 cases a year.

I'm in favor of giving him a call. I always worked with the wardens, deputies, local police, and CITIZENS in my area. We all know a little and if you take time to put the whole puzzle together its amazing what can be done!

From: Purdue Date: 01-Dec-09
In Indiana a female Dept. of Health worker attempted to enter a man's property to investigate the digging that he was doing in his yard that appeared to be the installation of a finger system that the land owner was personally doing.

She was initially rebuffed by the constitution quoting land owner, but returned with a police officer. The officer remained on the road right of way while the lady entered the yard and took pictures while being threatened with being sued for trespass.

The land owner took her to court and lost. It turned out she had a right to enter his property due to the probable cause that was evident from the type of piping, distribution boxes, gravel, etc. It therefore had to be determined if local health codes for the proper installation of the finger system were being followed. He had also not filed for the proper permits.

Basically, federal, state and local governments can do what ever they want to enforce laws, regulations, and codes. Probable cause is all they need and it doesn't take much to have that.

Does anyone remember what happened at Waco and Ruby Ridge?

From: LW Date: 01-Dec-09
Yes, pretty big lawsuit and payout from Ruby Ridge.

From: fuzzy Date: 01-Dec-09
Purdue, great example. I am VA Health Department and have had an experience that precisely parallels.

From: Wapitik Date: 01-Dec-09
In Montana you cannot go on anyone's property without permission and that includes law enforcement unless a crime is being committed. i would think that is true in all states. The government cannot just come on to your private property unless you give them that authority

From: jhelton Date: 01-Dec-09
I knew the story about Waco, but I have never heard of Ruby Ridge until I just read it... I guess I was too young... Sounds almost too fantastic to have actually occurred, but it did. Amazing what our government has gotten the authority to do either legally or illegally. Too funny, you didnt hear a word about this in the media as a violation of rights, but they jump up and down about some illegal being wire tapped or listening to someone overseas without a warrant.

Ridiculous what our nation has been reduced to.

As far as the GW goes... I would ask him if he has seen a crime being committed or if any complaints have been filed about him or his property. If he says no, then I would inform him in no uncertain terms that if he continues this path you will have an attorney contact his superiors. I have never and will never take a violation of my personal or property rights lying down.

Just recently I was stopped by a state trooper accusing me of speeding, then hopping the ramp and going the other direction to elude him. I had to produce a business card of my business about 30 miles off the ramp to have him believe that I actually just got on the interstate and was not running from him. This traffic stop made me nearly 30 minutes late for a continuing education meeting. He was going to write me a ticket anyway, and I let him have it. I informed him in no uncertain terms would I accept the ticket and drove off. He never followed

J


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Subject: RE: Game Warden's Power?

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