March 8, 2021

North Dakota Trespass Legislation on the Path to being Favorable for Sportsmen

Contact: Nick Buggia, Upper Midwestern States Manager

For years, North Dakota’s trespass laws have been a topic of discussion in Bismarck. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) reported earlier this year on a bill that would again address this issue. Since then, North Dakota Senate Bill 2144 (ND S 2144) has been introduced and is making its way through the legislative process, having passed the Senate last week and then reported to the House Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Currently in North Dakota, private land is open to hunting unless otherwise posted. This has been attractive for hunters across the country looking to take advantage of North Dakota’s diverse hunting opportunities. For the most part, they have been welcomed with open arms, but this new legislation has the potential to make it easier for landowners to post their lands and for sportsmen to identify private land as either open or closed to hunting.

The proposed change would not allow anyone to cross a fence to access public land unless that individual possesses a hunting or fishing license and is actively hunting or fishing. In addition, the landowner will also be able to “designate the land as posted or closed to hunting in an online database authorized by the state and available to the public.”

While the proposed change will give landowners an additional option to post their lands electronically, it will also give hunters the ability to easily identify lands that are open to hunting when planning  trips to the Peace Garden State.

In previous sessions, proposed legislation would have had a significant impact on hunters by changing the default for private lands from “open unless posted as closed” to “closed unless posted as open.” There have been several versions since then, and CSF has worked with members of the North Dakota Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, the Governor’s office, and the North Dakota Game & Fish Department to ensure that sportsmen and women’s voices were heard on this issue.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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