Posting your land

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October 20, 2016 12:00 AM

Now that we are into the hunting season you may see many more people either dressed like pumpkins or in camo all out in search of the elusive white-tail, mule deer, elk, moose or upland birds.
Since most hunting in Saskatchewan takes place on private land, respecting private landowners is an important part of good hunter ethics.
The ministry’s position is that hunters should always ask permission before accessing any private land. 
One question I get often as an officer is how a landowner should post their land to restrict or limit access to their land.
Don’t shoot the messenger when I say this, but the onus is on you the landowner to post your land regardless of how much land you have.
If you choose to not post your land, that’s OK, too, but that means that all hunters have access to your land as long as there is an open season on.
So let’s break this down into sections to make it easier.
Signs
Signs with messaging like: NO HUNTING, NO TRESSPASSING, NO SHOOTING, HUNT WITH PERMISSION ONLY, HUNT ON FOOT ONLY are all acceptable signage for posting your land.
You as a landowner have to decide which message you want.
Many like the Hunt With Permission Only signs, as this allows access to hunting but ensures that the hunter makes contact with the landowner first.
The signs have to be a minimum of 600 sq. cm. in size so they can be easily seen.
For those non-metric types out there, that is 11” x 14” in size.
These signs can be purchased at many stores or you can make your own.
It’s best to find a sign that is not made of paper, which tends to dissolve in rain, snow and wind. Remember that the Ministry of Environment has some signs that are free and available at ministry offices.
These signs say: Occupied Buildings, Hunt on Foot Only, Seeded Fields, Please Close the Gate.
Placement and Location  
There has been so much talk amongst landowners as to where these signs have to be posted.
Many of these conversations involve incorrect information.
For example, I’ve heard signs have to be posted every 100 metres, to only the corners and so on.  The Wildlife Act clearly states that the land has to be prominently posted along its boundaries so as to provide reasonable notice.
A judge is the only one who can decide what is reasonable notice, but I have the following recommendations.
1. Put a sign at every access point onto your land.
2. Put a sign at every corner of a quarter section.
3. Put a sign between the corner and the access point.
4. Ensure that there are signs on the backside of the quarter section.
A hunter may have access to a S.E. corner but not the S.W. corner. The owner of the S.W. corner must make sure that the land is posted so that the hunter sees the signs from the SE corner going towards the SW corner.
Yellow denotes access points—blue denotes sign locations.
A few other things you should be aware of is the fact even though the animals are on your land, and may eat some of your crops or trees, they’re still the property of the crown.
This means it’s unlawful to charge a fee for people to hunt on your land.
It’s also unlawful to post another person’s land.
There’re many reasons why someone would do this, but there are no legal ones.
If signs are up, they should not be torn down, shot at or damaged in any manner.
If an officer comes along and you are hunting on posted land, the onus is on the hunter to prove that they have legal access to the land.
I know this next part is going to be confusing, but just because the land is NOT posted does not give a hunter consent to access the land. 
It is not a violation of The Wildlife Act or The Trespass to Property Act to hunt on private land without permission if the land has not been posted.
However, hunters do not have the ‘explicit right’ to access private land, as landowners do have the ability to sue any person under common law for trespass. 
Another scenario that officers run into is landowners who call the TIP line about hunters on their land.
They want the officer to drive out and run them off, but do not want to have them charged.
Conservation officers respond to all TIP calls regarding posted land by confirming with the landowner that permission has not been granted to any hunters and that the landowner must be willing to become involved before any charges will be laid.
If you have any questions it is best to contact your local conservation officer who can provide you with additional information.
Like every column, I have some questions from you that I will do my best to answer.
Can I sell coyote furs to a fur buyer if I do not have a trapper’s licence? 
No, you must have a trapper’s licence before you can sell any furs. It may be legal for you to shoot coyotes as they are not protected, but they cannot be sold.
Is it legal to shoot from a road? 
This is a common question from both hunters and landowners.
Shooting from a road of any sort is not a safe hunting practice and is not recommended. Legally it is not lawful to shoot along or across a provincial highway, provincial road or municipal road.
These roads are defined in the regulations as the roads that are shown on the official highway map.
The common advice given by conservation officers is to take one step off the maintained or travelled portion of the road and to shoot away from the road if it is safe to do so.
Can I legally carry two firearms while hunting big game?  Can I use a recorded call for big game too?
Yes, you can carry a 30 calibre rifle for the larger game and a .22 – 250 for coyotes should you see one. 
You have to make sure you’re using the right calibre for the right species as it’s unlawful to hunt big game with a firearm of .23 calibre or less.
There are no rules against the use of recorded calls for hunting big game.
I have never come across it in the field other than for waterfowl and coyotes, but there are many big game calls on the market for hunting.
Until next time…keep your rod tip up.

Ministry of Environment conservation officer Lindsey Leko has spent more than 25 years as a conservation officer in Saskatchewan. If you have questions, please contact Leko at leko@gov.sk.ca.

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