A Saskatchewan rancher says he’s frustrated with how the province’s landowners are allowed to deal with trespassers.
Layne Abrahamson, 23, is a part-time rancher in the rural municipality of Rosedale. He said the signs his family posts on their property in line with current trespassing rules don’t do much to deter people.
“We’ve had signs shot up, I’ve had signs ignored, I’ve had people drive right through the gate past the sign that says ‘No hunting,’” he said, adding this happens despite it being against provincial rules to remove, alter or deface signs posted as warnings.
Abrahamson said he’d like to see the law changed to make it mandatory for hunters to ask landowners’ permission.
“They don’t realize what landowners face. I can find somebody on my land and I can tell them to leave and that’s about it,” he said.
“If the law’s not there, they’re just going to do what they want to do and it gives us no rights.”
Abrahamson said he believes the number of trespassing hunters has gotten worse in the last decade.
“I’ve been out hunting and there have been people out on our land. They could’ve shot at a deer and shot me.”
He added attitudes around asking for landowners’ permission before hunting need to change along with the laws.
“Some people are mean-spirited and they just don’t care. Some people don’t realize – they think we own all this land and it just doesn’t matter to us,” he said.
“We’ve had our backs up against the wall financially just to buy this land. It’s no different than people’s houses in town, it’s our livelihood.”
SARM delegates express concern
Rural crime featured prominently during the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) convention in Regina in mid-March.
Prior to the convention, SARM president Ray Orb said he was happy with the provincial government’s creation of a protective services response team, which includes conservation officers tasked to assist the RCMP.
“Even though members are frustrated, we are hoping they will be somewhat patient and give this response team a chance to work,” Orb said.
Several SARM delegates questioned provincial Justice Minister Don Morgan about potential changes to trespassing laws during the convention’s March 16 bear pit session.
Morgan said the provincial government was open to discussion on balancing the rights of the public versus those of homeowners, but ruled out any move to American-style laws giving property owners wide latitude to shoot people on their land.
“Not castle laws, not stand-your-ground, nothing like that. We’re talking about getting consent to enter people’s property,” he said.
Premier Scott Moe said he was also open to reviewing trespassing laws and suggested his government would also be willing to look at more investments in enforcement.
—With files from 980 CJME’s Kevin Martel and paNOW’s Nigel Maxwell.