Fishing season will soon be upon us and many of us will be heading to our favorite stream or pond. Well, if those fishing spots are on private lands you need to be aware of a new trespass law that took effect in October 2011. The law, called the Landowner Protection Act, requires you to have written permission to fish, hunt, or trap on properly posted lands and it must have a date that is less than 12 months old. You must carry the permission form while fishing and you are required to show the form to law enforcement officers upon request. If you cannot show written permission, the officers can immediately give you a citation.
The new law gives landowners two ways they can post their lands. The first is using traditional signs mounted on trees and posts no more than 200 yards apart.
Under the new law, landowners can paint vertical purple marks instead of signs. The bottom of the marks must be at least 3 feet, but not more than 5 feet from the ground and be at least 8 inches in length. Markings must not be spaced more than 100 yards apart.
Although the new law may seem to be a burden, in my experience most landowners will grant you permission to fish if you talked with them first. Now you must get them to sign the written permission form and carry it with you while fishing. State law encourages private landowner to allow recreation on their property without increasing their liability should someone be injured while doing so. One simple and often successful approach used to obtain landowner’s permission to fish is to offer to share your catch with them!
For more information and sample permission forms in both full page and wallet sizes, go to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s web site at http://www.ncwildlife.org/Portals/0/Conserving/
-Jim Borawa, Senior Environmental Scientist and Avid Angler