Trespassing complaints rise with hunting season underway
November 3, 2011
By Tara Garcia Mathewson, TheDailyNewsOnbline.com
ALBION — Jerry Culhane moved onto 180 acres of property in Albion
about seven years ago. The former owners were elderly and didn't get
around enough to patrol their property. When Culhane moved in,
trespassing was a regular problem, especially during hunting season.
It's not that Culhane doesn't want anyone on his property, but he
wants to know who they are and when they're there.
''I've caught people sneaking on here and they're all in camouflage
during deer season hiding behind a tree,'' Culhane said. "I don't want
to shoot somebody if I don't know they're there."
Deer season started Oct. 15, marking a time of year when property
owners across the region will have to deal with unwanted visitors to
According to environmental conservation officers, this is the time of
year trespassing complaints go up.
But Lt. Peter Barton of the Department of Environmental Conservation
estimated police probably only hear about 25 percent of actual
"Lots of times I'm getting calls where it's the second or third
Barton said. "Or for the fourth time that morning, they caught another
It is even rarer for trespassing cases to go through the court
Generally property owners decide to handle it themselves and simply ask
people to leave. Barton even tells landowners once a couple people are
arrested for trespassing, word gets around and people stay away.
Culhane had to call the police for snowmobiling trespassers soon
after he moved onto his new piece of property and later sent official
letters to area hunters who trespassed telling them to stay out of his
woods. Once he took a stand, the problems seemed to go away.
Based on New York State law, people must leave another's property
when asked to do so whether that property is posted or not. But
landowners are still encouraged to post signs along the boundaries of
Chris Sartwell, who owns more than 400 acres in Gaines, said her
safety is a major concern when she is alone in her own backyard.
"I want to hunt on my property and I want to feel safe that when I am
hunting that I am safe and will not be shot by someone else," she said.
What's more, there is an unwanted level of vulnerability for Sartwell
when approaching armed strangers.
By law property owners have the right to confront trespassers and
write down their license and contact information. If the hunter doesn't
offer up a license, separate charges can be filed.
That's why Barton, the conservation officer, said hunters are told in
training classes it's best to get permission to hunt on private property
and then treat the land as if it were their own. His advice this time of
year is for hunters to do just that and for landowners to post their
But if there are problems, the DEC's 24-hour dispatch line is (877)
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