South Dakota trespass legislation defeated

Farm Forum

State senators rejected an expansion of South Dakota’s trespass law to cover hunters, anglers and trappers who are convicted of illegally crossing private property to reach other land.

South Dakota already allows a judge to take away the licensing privileges for hunting, fishing and trapping for one year upon conviction for trespassing while hunting, fishing or trapping.

Sen. Betty Olson, R-Prairie City, wanted the penalty to cover them while they travel to a hunting, fishing or trapping spot as well.

The vote on Senate Bill 129 was 12 yes and 21 no.

“This is only aimed at the bad actors, not the good guys out there who are trespassing by mistake,” Olson said.

Sen. Ried Holien, R-Watertown, said it’s unnecessary.

“Up in the northeast part of the state, we’ve got a lot of bad feelings,” Holien said.

He said fishing and trapping involve water and the question of flooded private lands hasn’t been resolved yet. He said people have been shooting at others.

“I just don’t think it’s the right time,” Holien said. “It’s in the hands of the courts.”

Sen. Mike Vehle, R-Mitchell, supported the change and said it’s a matter of common courtesy.

“These people who say they don’t know? Then go ask,” Vehle said.

“You show respect for that person who owns that land and who has put money into owning that land and owning that cattle,” Vehle said.

Vehle said the threat of the loss of license privileges can be an important deterrent.

Sen. Art Rusch, R-Vermillion, said the question of intent would have to be decided at a jury trial. He is a retired circuit judge.

“I don’t think this is necessary,” Rusch said.

The South Dakota Stockgrowers Association sought the change. This is the third consecutive year that an expanded trespass measure has been tried and failed.

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