Changes planned for the province’s trespassing laws could make it tougher for people to get out to their favourite hunting spot or snowmobiling trail.
Legislation introduced Tuesday would amend the Trespass to Property Act to require anyone seeking access to private land to first get permission from the owner. Previously, the law assumed access was granted unless the landowner posted signs.
Once passed, the new law could be a deterrent to hunters in the province, according to Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation executive director Darrell Crabbe.
He said this is because without a standardized way of getting landowners’ contact information, many hunters could find themselves unable to secure the permissions they need.
“As an example, upland game bird hunters or migratory game bird hunters are much more apt to be travelling around,” he said, meaning their type of hunting could bring them across several different properties during a single session.
As a possible workaround, Crabbe says the federation is researching how feasible it would be to create a directory of owners’ contact info, possibly as a mobile phone app.
Crabbe said there was a concern the extra hurdles could cause some to abandon hunting altogether.
“Hopefully we don’t see a decrease in the number of hunters, but we’re suggesting that certainly, it might be a reality,” he said
He said any significant decrease in the number of hunters in the province could cause problems with animal populations.
“The hunting community is really a major control system that we have in place for over-population of any one species,” he said.
Snowmobilers also concerned about finding landowners
“For snowmobilers to go out and just roam the backcountry freely, this is going to be a change,” said Saskatchewan Snowmobile Association (SSA) CEO Chris Brewer.
Brewer said if the amendments pass, the realities of modern farming could leave many individual snowmobilers facing difficulty tracking down property owners in order to make requests for access.
“When you look at a (rural municipality) map, there isn’t the names anymore. Sometimes, they’re just a corporate number.”
Even where land is still individually owned, Brewer said property owners often either don’t live on it or are absent through the winter.
Brewer said the difficulties could lead more snowmobilers to simply haul their sleds to areas with trails set up, rather than deal with trying to find landowners to ask them for permission.
“I think time will tell us what’s going to happen. We may see an increase in traffic on the snowmobile trail system.”
If the amendments pass as expected in 2019, Brewer said the SSA would work to encourage riders to follow the law and be good ambassadors for their sport.
“Please respect the rights of the landowners and take the effort to contact them and let’s do it the right way.”
—With files from 650 CKOM’s Bryn Levy and 980 CJME’s Evan Radford