Sask. Wildlife Federation concerned about new trespassing laws

(Wikimedia Commons)

Jayda Noyes, Daily Herald

The Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation (SWF) is saying minor adjustments to trespassing laws could have a major impact on hunters.

Last Thursday, the province released results of a survey about potential changes to the legislation.

Most participants said if someone wants to enter private land, they should have the owner’s permission first instead of only following signs.

In a news release, Justice Minister Don Morgan said they’re in the process of updating the laws.

On Friday, the SWF released results of their own research.

In 2017, Executive Director Darrell Crabbe reached out to Dr. Alistair Bath at Memorial University in Newfoundland to conduct a study on land access.

Dr. Bath then met with members of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities, Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association, Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association and the Ministry of Environment to set its parameters.

Participants were land owners and a cross-section of SWF and non-SWF hunters.

One finding was hunters have difficulties getting the landowner’s contact information.

“If you go to get an RM map and try to find any contact information, whether it’s an email or a telephone number, of land owners, it’s pretty much impossible,” said Crabbe.

“Changes to a lack of opportunity or access to hunting areas is usually the number one reason for people to hang up their firearms and quit hunting.”

He added it’s an honoured tradition and benefits residents in many ways, such as financially.

Crabbe said if rural crime is the main cause of concern, changing the trespassing laws won’t help.

“People that are going to be committing rural crimes are probably not going to be deterred by trespass laws,” he said.

He also questioned the validity of the province’s survey.

“Theirs was random. Anybody could go in and do it. You could do it multiple times,” said Crabbe.

In a Facebook post, the SWF said they’re meeting with Morgan on Tuesday to address their concerns.

Their full survey report is available on their website.