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As hunting season is now well upon us, sportsmen need to be aware of the applicable law regarding the retrieval of wounded game coming to rest on another’s property.

Those who come onto another’s property without consent to retrieve wounded game or even track wounded game may be prosecuted in the state of Illinois for Unlawfully Hunting on Private Property Without Permission From the Landowner. 520 ILCS 5/2.33(t).

In Missouri, retrieval of wildlife from private land without permission of the landowner is punishable by a Class B Misdemeanor. 578.525, RSMo. A conviction of a Missouri Class B Misdemeanor may bring a sentence of up to a $500.00 fine and 6 months in the county jail. Furthermore, the Missouri Conservation Commission will revoke all privileges of the individual to hunt, fish, or trap for at least one year from date of conviction.

If a hunter shoots and wounds a deer or other game on property they have permission to hunt and the game runs onto property where the hunter does not have permission to be, the first thing the hunter should do is contact the neighboring landowner.

The hunter does not have “self-help” rights to cross over onto the adjoining property owners land and retrieve the game without asking for the landowner’s permission first. If the hunter contacts the neighboring landowner and that landowner does not give his or her consent, the hunter is not allowed onto the property to retrieve the game. Even though a hunter may be tracking, blood trailing, or retrieving the game, the activity falls under the scope of “hunting” and thus the hunter can be charged with Hunting Without Permission.

If the hunter who shot the game is not allowed to retrieve the game, the property rights in the animal itself actually eschew back to the state. This means not even the property owner on who’s land the game comes to rest has a right of possession to the animal.

If you have questions regarding the contents of this article, or other similar issues, please contact our office.

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