Newcoming Representative Betty Olson to go after open fields doctrine

The Rapid City Journal is writing today that incoming Representative Betty Olson is going to go after the 'open fields' doctrine used by Game, Fish & Parks to inspect for game violations despite prior efforts that have failed:

State Rep.-elect Betty Olson of Prairie City, a rancher who campaigned on protecting landowner rights, plans to introduce a bill during the 2007 state Legislature to restrict the power of conservation officers to enter private land.

“It was one of the main reasons I got elected, so I guess that’s what they want me to do,” Olson said by telephone Sunday night.

Legislation in past sessions to restrict the use of the so-called “open-fields doctrine” by state Game, Fish & Parks Department officers has been a contentious issue. In 2005, the South Dakota Senate passed a bill that would have required officers to get landowner permission before entering private property — unless they needed to respond to emergencies, kill crippled animals, had reasonable suspicion of lawbreaking or had to investigate such reports.

The legislation, SB122, passed the 2005 state Senate 19-15 but failed in the House 27-43. In 2004, an identical version of the bill passed the House but failed in the Senate.

Olson said she would fashion her bill after SB122.

“I talked to some of the legislators, and they said to just leave it the way it is,” Olson said. “There’s nothing there that would restrict legitimate law enforcement. And it protects our property rights. There’s nothing in there that would hurt a hunter, either.”


Still, Rhoden has doubts about Olson’s bill changing things.

“I don’t know that there’s much sense in revisiting that,” he said. “It was pretty clear last time that we didn’t have the political muscle to get it done.”

Olson said, however, that she’s ready to try.

“I suppose it will stir things up,” she said.

Read it all here.


Anonymous said…
Great idea, let's restrict law enforcement more during times of increase meth production and use. She has no idea what she's opening up.
Anonymous said…
Regular law enforcement can still go onto private property pursuant to the doctrine. The only ones who will be curtailed will be the guys who's limited jurisdiction is to those all-important cases of hunting violations.

Anon, if you really want to do something about meth labs, let's strenghten mandatory minimums in SD.
Anonymous said…
I'm really sad to hear that bill is going back to the Legislature again. It won't have any more support than it did last time.

I was there for both the open fields doctrine vote, and the abortion vote. The open fields vote caused more hard feelings and was actually more emotional than 1215 was last year. Let's not go there again.
Anonymous said…
106pm - SDCL 41-15-10. Conservation officers authorized to execute process--Arrest without warrant-- Assistance by peace officers--"Conservation officer" defined. While performing their lawful duties assigned to them by the Department of Game, Fish and Parks, conservation officers and their supervisors have full power and authority to serve and execute all warrants and process of law issued by a court in enforcing the provisions of any law of the state in the same manner as any constable or sheriff may serve and execute the same. While performing their lawful duties assigned to them by the Department of Game, Fish and Parks, conservation officers and their supervisors have full power and authority to arrest, without a warrant, any person detected in the act of violating any laws of this state which they are authorized to enforce. For the purpose of enforcing the game, fish, parks, and boating laws, conservation officers and their supervisors may call to their aid any law enforcement officer or other persons, and all state's attorneys, law enforcement officers, and other persons shall, if called upon, enforce and aid in enforcing such laws. For purposes of this section the term, conservation officer, means any game, fish and parks employee whose duty is the enforcement of the game, fish, parks, and boating laws of this state.
Anonymous said…
Yeah, let's not go there again, because God forbid, the legislature actually address landowner concerns!
Anonymous said…
In response to 12:58

How many meth busts have game wardens accounted for? How many of those occurred when they entered private property to check the licenses of a hunting party engaged in a hunt?
Anonymous said…
If you are not breaking any hunting laws what do you have to hide?
The CO can only enter legally when they observe hunting or fishing happening to enter.
Anonymous said…
Anon 3:32 – Reread the article carefully. Right now, GF&P claims the authority to enter private land, at any time and for any reason, without the landowner’s knowledge or permission to check whether or not HUNTERS are breaking the law.

The bill that failed to pass would have only allowed the game warden to trespass if he had “reasonable suspicion, probable cause, or reason to believe that a crime was being committed”. That doesn’t seem too restrictive to me.

Hunters have, in effect, signed a contract to allow GF&P, or anyone else, to check them for hunting violations.

The landowner has signed no such contract, but, since he graciously allowed hunters to hunt on his land, he has become subject to having his property rights abused by GF&P. Does this seem fair to you?

Hunters are the ones who should be pushing to get a bill like this passed so landowners can safely open their land to hunting again without fear that the hunting privileges they grant have opened their private land to trespass by GF&P.

Locking private land to hunting is only a minor inconvenience to landowners but this contentious issue has seriously cut into the areas open to hunt for free to the average Joe.

As a hunter, I am very upset with this bullheaded attitude by GF&P, which has caused me to lose a great place to hunt that my family and I have hunted for generations.
Anonymous said…
Just like the deer that are being taken illegaly... this issue is D-E-A-D. I hope somebody gets Betty to change her mind before it makes things worse than they already are.
Anonymous said…
You are wrong, a CO can only enter onto private land now if they observe hunting or fishing. If it is not a hunting season they are not legaly on the land. If they can not see someone fishing from ther road they cant enter the property. The properties curtilage is still protected by the right to privacy, the GF&P has no more authority or rights then any other law enforcement person in the state. I for one think they need to be able to monitor our fine landowners of this state from breaking unknown "Lacey Act" laws and are looking at large fines and prison sentances. Dakota Safari, Bucks and Birds and I am sure there will be more. When money is involved ethics are sometimes thrown out the window.
Anonymous said…
West River Ranchers hope newly-elected Jarrod Johnson can support Betty in her efforts!
Anonymous said…
Sorry Anon 7:52, but YOU are wrong. There is NO law stopping GF&P from trespassing on private land any time they want. I challenge you to produce a South Dakota law that prohibits them from doing exactly that. You can’t do it.

GF&P policy, which can be changed at any moment by GF&P, does say that the CO is not supposed to come on private land unless it is hunting season, but that was only put into policy as an attempt to mollify irate landowners.

This statement of yours – “I for one think they need to be able to monitor our fine landowners of this state from breaking unknown "Lacey Act" laws and are looking at large fines and prison sentances” - illustrates your contempt for landowners, hunters, and property rights.

So, what exactly is your job title at GF&P?
Anonymous said…
There was no contempt aimed at anyone except those who have broken the law and got caught or to those that are breaking the law and have not been. and that goes for landowners or people who call themselves sportsmen. If you are not breaking the law why worry.
The way it has been defeated before in the legislature, there just does not seem to be state wide support. Only commercial hunting operations seem to support it besides the handful of lockout people. But the majority of landowners dont seem to mind.
JArrod Johnson has publiucally stated he supports the S&PL lands open to public hunting which means they are open to GF&P enforcement.
Anonymous said…
Let me get this straight. You honestly believe that landowners must be breaking the law because they object to GF&P trespassing across their grass to nail a hunter who could just as well be inspected at game checks on the highways? I don’t suppose you’d mind them driving across your front lawn on a rainy day to check your pink flamingo either? Never mind those ruts he leaves behind through your petunia patch, the CO has the right to make sure you aren’t breaking some law too, doesn’t he?

I would hardly call over four million acres of locked out land “a handful”. This issue doesn’t affect commercial hunting operations because in order to be licensed, they have already agreed to be inspected by GF&P. Private landowners have not agreed.

South Dakota’s school and public lands have always been open to hunting because they belong to the state. Why is it noteworthy that Johnson says he’s in favor of public hunting on them?

What did you say your job title is at GF&P?
Anonymous said…
I am a land owner and a hunter that hunts more than 90% (that is a guess on my part) of hunters.I hunt approx. 70 days a year in SD.

If we want to gut the GF&P we can do this. I personally have nothing against my warden. I believe if I was caught doing illegal activity he would give me a ticket.

Please study the whole situation before we get rid of the powers of our GF&P.

Why do some landowners not want a warden checking on their activity? If you are legal what do you have to hide. I would like to hear from you lockouters.
Anonymous said…
The licensed commercial operators aren't the ones promoting this, it's the ones who want to operate their own commercial enterprise without being licensed OR monitored by GF&P.

How silly would it be if people who lived in the city tried to stop police from coming on our land without permission.

I can imagine how well a bill would do that said cops were only allowed to step on concrete within city limits, no going in the back yard!!!

Same difference.
Anonymous said…
S&PL lands have not always been open to hunting. Curt Johnson was the Commmissioner who started opening them up.
No I dont think every landowner is breaking the law, but the ability of Open Fields allows the policing of hunting on private property and is an attempt to keep it legal.
Only game checks on the road only allows what leaves the private property when the wardens happen to have a road check.
Even if I was a GF&P employee which I am not wouldnt they have the same equal oppurtunity and the right to voice their opinions as well as you and I?
Anonymous said…
9:20, the law doesn't allow cops to go snooping around people's yards/homes without reasonable suspicion. But gamewardens gan go snooping around property with no suspicion at all just because they want to.

The bill Betty Olson proposes says the same thing. If GF&P people have a suspicion that they can articulate, they can go check it out. If they just want to snoop without any suspicion - sorry charlie.

Peeping toms are not welcome in town or in the country, with or without a badge.
Anonymous said…
The law doesnt allow CO offers to snoop in your back yard either or your house or your barn (curtilege)"same law that doesnt allow the city cops" CO has no more legal power then any other law enforcement
It does let them search your "open Fields" do you hear a bell ringing.....
Just as "open Fields" allows any other law enforcement to do the same thing to search your open fields.......
Anonymous said…
9:11 - Why should I allow a game warden to drive across my land if he hasn’t had the good manners to at least ask my permission? If I don’t allow hunting, I don’t have to put up with a game warden trespassing on my private property. He is ruining my grass, which happens to be my cash crop, and in dry years like we’ve had lately, he is also a fire hazard.

We are not hiding illegal activity here. You, like the GF&P, assume that we must be committing some dastardly crime merely because we refuse to allow our rights to be trampled on. What ever happened to the quaint concept, “innocent until proven guilty”, anyway? Property rights are granted to us by the US Constitution and we are protecting our legal rights by locking our land to hunters to prevent abuse by GF&P.

What is the CO hiding that prevents him from getting my permission to come on my place to check hunters or other suspicious activity months before hunting season?

What happened to John Cooper’s much ballyhooed “communications with landowners” kick? Wouldn’t visiting with landowners over a cup of coffee or during one of the many agriculture meetings held in the area to get landowners' permission constitute a giant leap in the direction of improving those “landowner communications”?
Anonymous said…
11:35 Do you think all landowners act exactly like you? You may be law-abiding, but there are some that are not. Most people seem to have a tendancy to believe that all others believe or act as we do.

Am I wrong that some landowners break the law? I have seen it. Notice I said some. Most laws we have are because of a few offenders.

Wyoming, or maybe Colorado too, has done away with the "open fields" a few years ago. Now, they really have a poaching problem.
Anonymous said…
Betty needs to straighten out the confusion related to this topic. Looking forward to your good work Betty.
Anonymous said…
Wont be able to get her self out of a wet paper bag
Anonymous said…
"If you are legal what do you have to hide."

So you'd let them come into your house too, right, maybe even into your bedroom, because as long as you're legal, there's nothing to hide. Right?
Anonymous said…
Anonymous said…
yep you are right...if I had something to hide I wouldnt want them too......
Anonymous said…
Good luck to you Betty, there are a lot of new legislators again this year, so things will not be exactly the same.
Anonymous said…
She'a going to need a lot more than luck
Betty Olson said…
I am curious as to why some on this board are so opposed to landowners exercising their private property rights guaranteed in the constitution? Please read the text of SB122 below and tell me where this law would interfere with legitimate law enforcement duties.

Please note that the permission from the landowner can be obtained weeks, months or even years before the game warden needs it. GF&P has supposedly been urging their employees to develop lines of communication with the landowners in the area they serve.
I can’t think of a better way to open those lines of communicate by using common courtesy and asking the landowner politely for permission, can you?

FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, An Act to restrict the entry of conservation officers onto certain private land without permission.
Section 1. That chapter 41-2 be amended by adding thereto a NEW SECTION to read as follows:

No conservation officer may, in the course of performing the ordinary duties of a conservation officer, enter any private land unless the conservation officer has the permission of the landowner or the lessee.

However, any conservation officer may enter any private land without permission:

(1) If reasonable suspicion or probable cause exists that a violation of a law that the conservation officer is authorized to enforce has been, is being, or is about to be committed;

(2) To investigate a report of illegal hunting, fishing, or trapping activity;

(3) To dispatch crippled or distressed wildlife; or

(4) To respond to emergency situations, accidents, or other threats to public safety.

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