Some North Dakota legislators worked out a deal to take a step toward increased property protections, but the compromise legislation doesn’t require hunters to ask permission before entering un-posted private property.
The conference committee came up with a bill that would require people who are not hunters to ask permission before entering private property.
According to North Dakota Stockmen’s Association Executive Vice President Julie Ellingson, the new version of the bill contains the following features:
• Property is presumed closed for everything, except for hunting.
• Trespass in a dwelling or highly secured premises is a Class C felony.
• Trespass in any other place is a Class B misdemeanor for a first offense and a Class A misdemeanor for a second or subsequent offense within two years.
• Hunting on posted land without permission is a Class B misdemeanor for a first offense and a Class A misdemeanor for a second or subsequent offense within two years. Someone who hunts on posted land could also still lose hunting privileges.
• Carrying a firearm is no longer automatic evidence that someone is hunting.
• An allowance is made for landowners to electronically post their land for hunting if the state develops, operates or maintains an online database.
• Hunting guides and outfitters must obtain permission from landowners before they conduct those services on private land.
• A legislative management study about land access and a land access database is required to be conducted in the interim.
• The study committee will be comprised of five legislators, two landowners, two sportsmen and non-voting members representing the ND Association of Counties, ag commissioner, Game and Fish Department director, ITD and the State’s Attorneys Association.
• The committee is authorized to establish a trial of the electronic posting for up to three counties by 2020.
• The Game and Fish and the Tourism Division are required to conduct a public education and marketing campaign about the updates in the law.
Ellingson said this is the most progress landowners have seen on this issue in decades. “It’s a step forward for property rights and more progress on this issue than landowners have ever had before.” SB 2315 is expected to be on the calendar in the Senate Wednesday afternoon and in the House very early Thursday morning.
The North Dakota Stockmen’s Association is urging a “yes” vote on the bill.