Hunter-landowner debate is a tough situation

How should hunters know where they are permitted to hunt and where they are not, when it comes to private property?

How many landowners don’t care? How many do?

How should landowners with one position or the other express themselves? Should they even have to? Isn’t private property transcendant even in the U.S. Constitution?

These are some of the significant principles at the heart of debate over Senate Bill 2315. The bill would presume private land is closed to access, regardless of whether it is posted to that effect. Hunters would be required to contact landowners for permission. However, landowners could post their land’s status and their contact information in an online database to make the process easier for hunters.

Those unfamiliar with the debate might be surprised to learn that under existing law, private property is considered open for hunting unless otherwise posted. The bill would reverse that, require landowners to provide contact information online, even though the database would be optional. Hunters generally oppose the measure, as land available to hunters diminishes. Yet there is the fundamental issue of private property rights.

There are other questions too. While landowners might go to the effort to utilize the proposed database to block hunting on their property; is it also reasonable to expect those who are ambivalent about hunters using their land to also exert the effort to post on the website?

Some property owners might not feel like they should have to post their names and contact information online.

Proponents have a solid argument for the plan, particularly if it worked as envisioned. Opponents also have strong arguments.

Hopefully when the item is debated again, some of these questions will be addressed. The bill is scheduled for a hearing Thursday before the joint House Energy and Natural Resources and Agriculture committees.

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