Can Landowners And Wildlife Protectors Form An Effective Coalition To Take on Hunters and Their Protectors?

In life, as in politics, we sometimes see “strange bedfellows” working together to achieve a specific goal. Although these temporary partners often have nothing in common, and may be on opposing sides of other issues, they can sometimes come together to accomplish one specific goal upon which they agree.

I recall a large, privately owned forest in Rockland County, NY that was going to be sold to developers. The wildlife protectionists didn’t like that idea since it would have meant the destruction of tens of thousands of acres of wildlife habitat; the hunters didn’t like the idea either since it would deprive them of one of their favorite hunting sites; the environmentalists did not like the idea since many natural assets would be destroyed.

The various groups came together as a coalition, and persuaded the state government to buy the land and make it into a state park. We certainly don’t mean to imply that those who protect animals and those who protect trees and land are mutually exclusive groups. There is often overlap. Unfortunately, there are many environmentalists who don’t understand the impact of managing wildlife for hunting, and have no ethical opposition to it.

In our quest to abolish hunting, we would be well-advised to look for partners who will help us accomplish our goal – even when we disagree on other issues. In order to form a working coalition we don’t need agreement – all we need goal congruency. That is, we have to both want to achieve the same goal.

Can landowners be our coalition partners in taking on hunters? What is the landowners’ problem with hunters? At C.A.S.H. we have been increasingly receiving reports of home-invasion by hunters on lands and homesteads. Many landowners are outraged by the hunters’ disregard of “no trespassing” signs and the safety of the landowners’ families. Landowners want the right to the quiet enjoyment of their land; and many dislike being disturbed by the sound of firearms, and armed strangers, sometimes with packs of dogs, invading their land.

Wildlife Watch has formed a nationwide coalition to oppose home invasion by hunters, and the lack of law enforcement in these instances. Worse than the lack of law enforcement is the fact that often the hunter harassment statutes are used against the homeowners.

Here is a summary of only some of these accounts:
As we have previously published, a particularly shameful misapplication of the hunter-harassment statute that has come to our attention is that of Jan Haagensen, a land-owner and an attorney in Pennsylvania. Unbelievably, Jan was charged with six counts of hunter harassment after she told a hunting party that was approaching her on her land not to trespass.

Rather than accept a plea-bargain, which would have resulted in a nominal fee, Jan decided to fight the charges in court. As expected, she lost in the local “good-ole-boys court” where the “judges” are often political hacks appointed by the political party in power.

Jan’s strategy was to appeal to higher courts until she reached a professional judiciary and then, upon winning the appeal, bring civil action for damages against the enforcement officers involved in the abuse of police power, thereby setting a precedent for other such cases.

In the appeals process, the roles of the parties to the case are, in a sense, reversed. The defendant in the trial case, now called the “Appellant,” pro-actively brings the case. The Appellant explains why the trial court judgment was faulty. The government department, which prosecutes in a criminal trial, now has to defend the decision of the trial court; they are called “Appellee.” The State of Pennsylvania for historical reasons refers to itself as “The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania” rather than “The State of the Pennsylvania.” So in Jan’s case it was the office of the State Attorney of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that had to defend the trial court’s decision.

Jan won in appellate court when the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania failed to even file a response to her appeal and, in fact, withdrew from the case. In a sense, they just walked away from case without even attempting to justify the trial court’s decision.

Again demonstrating what we’ve come to learn over and over again in these situations: the local trial courts, that are often run by good-ole-boy judges, make and continue to make ludicrous decisions that can’t be explained, much less defended by anybody with a basic understanding of law. Unfortunately, it takes a great deal of financial backing to reverse these miscarriages of justice. Jan is currently in the process of seeking funding to bring her civil case against local law enforcement forward.

We’ve also previously written about Rev. RJ who is a pastor and landowner in rural Missouri. Hunters have trespassed on his land numerous times. On one occasion, his wife was shot at by a hunter; and on two separate occasions, fires were set on his land by hunters. The local law enforcement officers simply refused to take any action.

Another instance of home invasion and harassment is what happened to Kathy Andrews. Ms. Andrews inherited her aunt’s estate in rural South Carolina. She quit her city job, accepted a position at the State University near her estate, and planned to enjoy her life in rural South Carolina.

Here’s what happened next: She heard hunters come onto her property. They were ostensibly following their dogs who were chasing deer. One of the dogs came close to her dwelling, and she was able to take the dog’s radio collar in an attempt to track the owner and get law enforcement to help her. She took the collar with her to her office the next day to make the requisite phone calls to the law enforcement agencies. The dog’s owner was one step ahead of her. He traced the radio collar to her office and had her arrested for stealing a dog collar. She spent one night in jail and faced larceny charges! She not only had no help from law enforcement against these marauding, trespassing hunters, she was made out to be the criminal.

While some of these landowners have some interest in the protection of wildlife, they are simply fed up with having their homes invaded by armed people who either lurk on their property or play loud and lethal war games there. Families, pets, and wildlife are all put in harm’s path, and law enforcement often only works for hunters.

But it is not just individual landowners who are having problems with hunters, a large paper company reportedly had 46 buildings set on fire by hunters after their decision to close the property to hunting. Large corporate landowners of forested land, such as paper companies are subject to the same unwelcome intrusions by local gangs of “Deliverance” cast member wannabes.

We urge any landowners who have had the hunter harassment law used against them, or who have been confronted by hunters and/or their protectors, i.e. “law enforcement” to contact us.

These stories can be told and retold with a slightly different set of players and a different location, but basically the outcome is similar: Landowners are being harassed by hunters; local law enforcement is in collusion with hunters; the enforcement officials of the Fish and Game Agencies are the worst offenders by trying to frame landowners (who in reality are the victims of hunters), by charging them with hunter-harassment and other violations.


Contact Us

Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting / C.A.S.H.
P.O. Box 562
New Paltz, NY 12561