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On March 29, the South Dakota Landowner & Outfitter Alliance thanked Governor Noem and legislative sponsors at the signing of HB 1140, a bill “to restrict the entry of conservation officers onto certain private land without permission”.

The bill was introduced by the House Ag and Natural Resources Committee, at the request of the governor. HB 1140 requires conservation officers (employed by the South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks) to ask permission before entering private property.

“The Open Fields Doctrine has a long and controversial history in South Dakota, dating back decades. Until the law was changed this year, conservation officers could enter private property without landowners’ permission and with no reasonable suspicion or probable cause,” stated Reece Clarkson, SD Landowner & Outfitter Alliance Board Member.

In a press release, Governor Noem said the bill was designed to strengthen private property rights. South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks (GFP) officials were supportive of the changes. GFP Secretary Kevin Robling testified in support of HB 1140, stating that although officers could enter private property without permission, since 2011, the department had scaled back such activity.

“This has been a long road. A lot of us have been working toward this change for years. For some of us, our parents and grandparents had this fight. It’s good to finally see it resolved,” said Clarkson.

The governor and Secretary Robling have made giant steps toward improving landowner relationships and supporting private property rights. We really appreciate Governor Noem for her leadership. Lt. Governor Larry Rhoden, Senator Gary Cammack and the other sponsors just wouldn’t accept the status quo. This whole exercise is a testament to perseverance and hard work. Our Alliance is really proud of this win on behalf of South Dakota landowners,” stated Cody Weyer, Vice Chair South Dakota Landowner & Outfitter Alliance.

Prior to enactment, state conservation officers could enter private property without a warrant.

•HB 1140 would still allow state conservation officers to enter private property without permission under the following circumstances:

If reasonable suspicion or probable cause exists that a violation of law which a conservation officer is authorized to enforce has been, is being, or is about to be committed on the private land;

To dispatch crippled or distressed wildlife that the conservation officer has personally and lawfully observed on the private land; or

To respond to emergency situations, accidents, or other threats to public safety occurring on the private land.

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