Hunters who veer off onto personal property might be facing stricter trespassing penalties. The Senate Ag committee passed Senate Bill 183 Thursday morning after adding an amendment that clarifies some of the language. The penalty for trespassing while hunting under current law is loss of hunting license for one year. The amendment to the bill changes that to a two year loss and provides a clearer definition of hunting. Jeremiah Murphy with the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association says the amended bill is narrow enough to serve its purpose, but can still account for judge’s discretion.
“With the new language, we’ve narrowed even further the opportunity for unintended consequences. I think, too, that we need to give some credence and deference to our states attorneys, judges and juries to be able to sort out the balance of that. You’re going to have mistakes, people get lost, people chase strays onto their neighbor’s property. They do that today, and could arguably be considered to violate other trespass statutes, but usually those are sorted out. Attitude has a lot to do with it out in the field. I believe that this is discreet enough to not create much by way of unintended consequences, I think it’s specific enough to fill the hole that we have in law today,” Murphy says.
Members of the committee say hunters need to be aware of landowners’ rights while also asking hunters for their patience. The bill now heads to the Senate floor.