Hunters claim first win in Corner Crossing trial
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - A Wyoming court case sees a small victory for hunters, but the case itself is far from over.
We are returning tonight to the Wyoming Corner Crossing case involving 4 Missouri hunters.
If you are a hunter or just a lover of the outdoors, you may have been following this case closely. The core of this case lies in gaining access to public lands.
Accessing corners of public lands would be fine since private and public lands are technically laid out like a checkerboard.
The problem arises when gaining that access means possibly crossing into private property.
Over the years, countless charges by private owners have been brought against hunters and outdoors people when owners stated public land users violated their rights.
Add to this, corner crossing has been a legal grey area for years.
The last week’s case regarding this issue was when 4 Missouri hunters hunting in Wyoming were found not guilty of criminal trespass charges for corner crossing. It is a big win for all hunters.
“So they talked to the local game warden, they talked to the local sheriff, they even built themselves a contraption that would get them from one corner to the other to make sure that they did not step on any private land. They were doing everything right and then...the county attorney was pressured into charging them,” said Land Tawney, the President and CEO of Back Country Hunters and Anglers.
The case now goes into a civil suit, and Back Country Hunters and Anglers (BHA) has helped fund-raised $70,000 for legal fees.
This case may help set precedence for Corner Crossing laws nationally and start the conversation of codifying public entry access points to public land into law.
“We’re going to have to look at legislation and whether I think those conversations are already happening now and the next legislative cycle in Wyoming. I think there will definitely be something there to talk about Corner Crossing going forward and finding a solution that again works for the public and the private landowners as well,” said Tawney.
Tawney said that change would need to happen.
Things like the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act, and Access Yes Wyoming, could help pay willing landowners for access.
“That actually codifies this in law and makes sure there is no gray area anymore and that there is certainty for both landowners and public landowners as well,” said Tawney. “This is our public land and we need to make sure, and I say our like the entire American citizenry. That’s our public land and we need to figure out ways to access it so while it’s been managed as de facto private land we need to figure out a path forward,” said Tawney.
This final ruling in favor of 4 Missouri hunters opens the door to the possibility of creating laws around sufficient access to public lands.
We reached out to Elk Mountain Ranch and have not heard back in time of the broadcast.
We will keep you updated on any new information on this as it becomes available.
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