SW Legal studies in Business

Game Wardens Have Right to Enter Private Land to Enforce Hunting Regulations

Ohio high court held that state wildlife agents have the right to enter private land to check the licenses of hunters on private land, as well as make sure there are no other violations of hunting regulations, such as using bait to attract birds when that is prohibited.

Topic Real and Personal Property
Key Words

Wildlife, Hunting, Regulation, Entry

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

Coburn was hunting birds on his land with some friends. A wildlife officer saw them hunting and went on the land to check their hunting licenses and to make sure they were in compliance with bag limits. The officer noticed seeds scattered around on the ground and suspected they were baiting migratory game birds in violation of that law. He returned later with another agent to investigate the property and they found bait seed scattered around to attract birds. Coburn and his friends were charged with hunting migratory birds on a baited area, a misdemeanor. They protested that the agents did not have the right to enter private property to look for bait for the birds. The trial court dismissed the charged. The state appealed and the appeals court reversed, holding that the agents had the right to enter the property. Coburn and his friends appealed.


Affirmed. State wildlife agents have statutory authority to enter private property to ensure compliance with game laws. The agents can check licenses of hunters and be sure the hunters are not exceeding bag limits. If they come upon evidence of other violations of hunting laws, they have the right to pursue that matter, as they did in this case, where they returned to the hunting area to look for evidence of bait being put out to attract birds.


State v. Coburn, ---N.E.2d--- (2009 WL 564354, Sup. Ct., Ohio, 2009)

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