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Spring snow goose hunt at risk

Snow goose hunters confused about trespass law

Delta — If they aren't careful, hunters might lose their chance to hunt snow geese in and near Delta in the spring.

Snow goose

You must obtain written permission from landowners to hunt snow geese in the fields in and near Delta.

Photo by Lynn Chamberlain

During past hunts, landowners in the Delta area have had some difficult encounters with spring snow goose hunters. Some of these encounters have even resulted in damage to personal property.

It appears that at least some of these hunters aren't clear about Utah's trespass laws.

Must have written permission

If you're planning to hunt snow geese in the Delta area during the hunt that runs March 1–10, please remember that almost all of the ground that attracts geese to the area is privately owned and cultivated. You must have written permission before you can access these properties, even if the properties aren't posted.

And the time to get that permission isn't the day of the hunt—it's now.

Lynn Chamberlain, a regional conservation outreach manager for the Division of Wildlife Resources, says the snow goose hunt in Delta can be a fun event if you plan ahead and obtain permission from landowners to hunt their property.

"Don't expect to show up the day of the hunt and get permission," Chamberlain says. "You need to prepare in advance to legally hunt in Delta or any area in Utah that has private land."

Cultivated property

Utah's law is very clear—cultivated property is off limits to hunters who don't have written permission to be there, even if the land isn't posted. Utah's trespass law reads as follows:

"While taking wildlife or engaging in wildlife-related activities, you may not do any of the following activities:

  • Enter upon privately owned land that is cultivated OR properly posted without the permission of the owner or the person in charge of the land
  • Refuse to immediately leave the private land if requested to do so by the owner or person in charge
  • Obstruct any entrance or exit to private property

"Cultivated land" is land that is readily identifiable as land whose soil is loosened or broken up for the raising of crops, land used for the raising of crops, or a pasture that is artificially irrigated.

"Permission" means written authorization from the owner or person in charge to enter upon private land that is cultivated or properly posted. Permission must include all of the following details:

  • The signature of the owner or person in charge
  • The name of the person being given permission
  • The appropriate dates
  • A general description of the land

In the sentence "Enter upon privately owned land that is cultivated OR properly posted without the permission of the owner or the person in charge of the land," the word "or" makes the statement before it and after it stand alone.

In other words, cultivated land does not need to be posted to prevent trespass.

Violation of this law is a Class B misdemeanor that could result in fines and the loss of your hunting privileges.

If you intend to hunt geese in the Delta area, you must contact land owners and secure written permission before you can hunt on their land.

Permission cards are available for free online.

Why hunt geese in the spring?

Each spring, thousands of snow geese flock to the fields and reservoirs around Delta as they make their way north to their nesting grounds.

When they finally arrive above the Arctic Circle, the geese find they're not alone. Hundreds of thousands of additional snow geese are also there, sharing the vast tundra that serves as a nesting area and as rearing grounds for the young geese that will hatch.

Because snow geese are very successful nesters, they have a tendency to over-populate the area on which they congregate to nest. In fact, there are so many snow geese in some areas that the geese are damaging the habitat the birds rely on for survival.

To try to decrease the damage, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has initiated a spring hunt for snow geese. Biologists hope the hunt will help thin the birds out as they fly north in the early spring.

More information

For more information about hunting snow geese in the Delta area, call the DWR's Southern Region office at 435-865-6100.

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