Trespassing is becoming more of a “hot button” topic as outdoor enthusiasts increasingly use private forestlands for recreational pursuits. In our work with landowners, this subject is commonly discussed and has raised many concerns. Following is an overview of “No Trespassing” laws that are specific to Idaho, but Washington and Montana regulations are also briefly discussed.
Idaho law makes it illegal to trespass on acreage that is posted “No Trespassing,” as well as any land that is under cultivation, including artificially irrigated pasture. In 1992 the State Legislature amended trespass laws to allow the use of fluorescent orange paint instead of posted signs. The amendment states that “…the posting of a minimum of 100 square inches of fluorescent orange paint…shall constitute a ‘No Trespassing’ sign.” Also, the law mentions if metal posts are used, the entire length of the post must be painted.
For trespass postings to be enforceable on land that is not cultivated, they must be placed at intervals not greater than 660 feet along boundaries and at common access points.
One of the most likely times for trespassing is during hunting season, so now is a good time to post (or check your postings). When legally posted, hunters are even forbidden to shoot onto your land.
When you notice someone trespassing on your land, it is best to first warn them verbally. If you choose to report a trespass, you will need a description of the vehicle and license number, description of the person(s) involved, and the date, time and location of the occurrence. Landowners must also be willing to sign a trespass complaint and testify in court. It is not necessary for trespassers to be “caught in the act” by law enforcement officials.
Trespass law violations are handled by the local sheriff, and/or game warden if hunting or fishing is involved. If prosecuted, the trespasser can receive a fine, jail time, and/or loss of hunting and fishing privileges. In Idaho, conviction of trespass on posted private property for the purpose of hunting or fishing also carries a minimum one year revocation of the hunting/fishing license.
Idaho posting requirements are adequate in Washington and Montana with a few exceptions. Montana law recognizes the use of orange paint as a sufficient “No Trespassing” notice, but also requires that posting be present at any point where streams enter or exit the property. Washington law requires that land be posted “in a conspicuous manner.” For specific requirements, contact your game warden or sheriff.
To help delineate boundaries and minimize unwanted guests, Inland Forest Management, Inc. has developed unique aluminum “No Trespassing” signs (see below) that are available at no charge to our clients. Over the years these signs have received more respect than standard “No Trespassing” signs. By the way, it is best to use aluminum nails when attaching signs to trees so that hard metal doesn’t cause future problems for the logger or sawmill. Please let us know if you would like these signs for your land.