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Paynesville Press - January 28, 2004

DNR emphasizes trespass laws

Minnesota DNR officials remind snowmobilers that they must have permission of the landowner to operate on private land.

"Trespass is the most frequent complaint landowners have against snowmobilers," said Mike Hamm, DNR chief conservation officer. "Always ask permission before entering private land."

Hamm noted one of the most common trespass complaints is when snowmobilers leave ditches and damage farmland or lawns.

Violators of the Minnesota trespass law may face misdemeanor charges punishable by fines of up to $700, a jail sentence of up to 90 days, and loss of snowmobile registration for one year.

Gross misdemeanor includes:

*Knowingly disregarding signs prohibiting trespass.
*Trespassing after the landowner tells you not to.
*Violating the trespass law twice in three years.

Violators of a gross misdemeanor are subject up to $3,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, and losing snowmobile registration rights for one year and all hunting privileges for two years.

You must have permission to enter legally posted land or to enter agricultural land. Ag land is land that is plowed or tilled; has standing crops or crop residue; or is within a maintained fence for enclosing domestic livestock.

Though CRP, CREP, or RIM reserve lands may be agricultural land for tax or other purposes, these lands do not meet the definition of agricultural land for the purposes of the outdoor recreation trespass law. Posting is required to prohibit recreational use.

The DNR reminds snowmobilers not to: wound or kill another person's domestic animal or destroy private property; pass through a closed gate without returning it to the original position; nor stray off the groomed portions of marked trails.

Most grant-in-aid trails cross private lands because the landowner was gracious enough to allow snowmobilers to travel across their property.

"When trails get rough, some snowmobilers stray off the groomed trail and onto private lands," Hamm said. "This is illegal and can result in fines for trespassing or the private landowner closing the trail to snowmobilers."

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