Wyoming corner crossing case receives over $60,000 donated to help with legal fees
Last October, four nonresident hunters traveled to Wyoming to hunt elk and mule deer on public land. However, to access the BLM-owned property, they had to step over an area where two of the corners were public and the other two were privately owned. Now, Brad Cape, Phillip Yoemans, John Slowensky and Zach Smith face criminal trespass charges in Carbon County for corner crossing.
Corner crossing falls into a legal gray area and is an issue many western hunters are aware of navigating. It occurs when you step from one corner of public land to another, crossing over corners of private land to do so. According to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, “crossing or entering private lands without landowner’s permission may result in a violation of Wyoming’s game and fish or criminal trespass statutes.” However, corner crossing isn’t the same as blatantly walking across private land to public. In fact, in 2004, the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office issued an official opinion that acknowledged the difficulty in determining whether corner crossing violated that game and fish trespass statute.
“‘Corner crossing’ from one parcel of public land to another in order to hunt on that other public parcel, depending on the factual situation involved, may not be violative” of game and fish trespass statute, wrote Attorney General Patrick Crank. “Because, to be convicted, the state requires a person hunt or intend to hunt on private property without permission. ‘Corner crossing,’ however, may be a criminal trespass.”
With a court date pending this spring, the resolution of the case will be one many hunters will want to pay attention to. Corner crossing rules vary state and state and this ruling would only apply to Wyoming.