Wildlife officer: Trespassing is problem loophole for some hunters

For Chris Moszeter, the Snoqualmie Valley enforcement officer for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, flagrant trespassing by hunters is as big a problem as poaching.

The problem isn’t necessarily that of safety, but property rights, he said.

In a typical violation, a hunter will ask for permission to hunt, a property owner will say no, but the hunter will hunt on their land anyway and accept the ticket, Moszeter said.

“A $250 criminal trespassing ticket might be the cost of doing business for that trophy bull,” Moszeter said. “That causes a lot of frustration with homeowners.”

Trespassing is a state-law crime, not a hunting violation. That means that even if a person is fined for trespassing, they can keep their deer or elk.

The state has tried to close the loophole for years, to little avail—measures have failed to pass in the legislature.

Moszeter believes savvy hunters know the ins and outs of the law. Changing it would mean that trespassing hunters would forfeit their kills and possibly their firearms and vehicles.

“It hits them where it hurts,” he said.


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