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Dealing with Trespassers – Part 2


First let me say that I am not a lawyer and any issues that arise with trespassers you should consult an attorney. Having said that there are things you can do to deter trespassers from using your land as their own.

Putting up POSTED signs is easy, inexpensive and often is enough to deter would be trespassers. However it’s important to note that land does not have to be posted to still commit trespassing. SC Law says that “It shall be unlawful to enter upon the lands of another for the purpose of hunting, fishing, trapping or retrieval of dogs without the consent of the landowner or manager.” So without consent of the landowner, anytime you step foot onto someone else’s property you are trespassing.

Put up Gates: Shared roads are difficult to put gates on, but with a little communication it is possible. However where you can, and its feasible, put up gates to prevent easy travel across your land. On logging roads, this can be a cattle gate – but I would also look to see if an ATV or four wheel drive truck can go around the gate. If they can, put up things to prevent this from happening. Ditches are best, but cables, T-Post – and even fencing can all be deterrents. If you cannot put up a gate, try using cables. While not ideal, they also work but you MUST put a white PVC pipe around the cable to prevent accidental collisions with the cable. It’s also important to put them low enough that ATV cannot walk under them.

Property Watch Program: In South Carolina, the DNR has a program where landowners and property managers can enroll their property in the Property Watch Program. This program is free and gives the law enforcement access to your property, it also ensures the law enforcement that if they catch anyone that you will prosecute. There is a list of requirements to get enrolled but it’s mostly paperwork and worthwhile. There are also signs available for purchase at a minimal fee that will help potential trespassers know that the property is enrolled in the property watch program and that the law will be patrolling the property.

Word of Mouth: Perhaps the best deterrent is the word of mouth. If the word gets out that you are not tolerating trespassers. They will be a lot more careful when they slip onto the property. Part of this process is visiting the property at odd times of the week and times of the day. If you are someone who is only there from Friday at 5:00 through Sunday at 2:00 it won’t be long before everyone in the neighborhood knows your schedule. Mix it up, come and go before daylight and after dark. In the middle of the day, middle of the week. Keep them guessing, leave the gates open when your there, and sometimes close it behind you. Once they see that they never know where you are, they will find another place to poach.

Install Camera’s: There is more use of game cameras than monitoring the movements of game animals on your property. I have several monitoring my cabin, roads, gates and places of easier access that should deter would be trespassers. With this is the use of faux cameras. In fact several companies are now selling faux cameras to install to deter would be trespassers. These are placed in places where they are seen, but difficult to reach. It is a very effective technique.

Unfortunately, as long as we have land, we will deal with those who want to steal from us. We will have to deal with those who sneak onto our land and kill our animals. We can do all we can to minimize the situation, but we cannot stop it completely. Other than a ten foot fence completely surrounding the property there is only so much we can do. But, we should do all we can within our limits.

Lastly, a word of caution – when you catch someone on your property approach in a deliberate and calm manner. They know they have been caught, there is little need of escalating the situation where one or both of you are armed.  Rather ask then what their business is there, reveal that you are the owner of the property, and ask them to leave. Or call law enforcement, trying to take the law into your own hands will achieve little. Be careful, use discretion and common sense and the situation can quickly be resolved. Whether you press charges or not is up to you – but be consistent.