HB147 was intended to clear up confusion around no trespassing signage, while allowing access to public land such as this (Photo courtesy of Buzz Hettick)
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If you’ve been hiking or hunting in Wyoming, you’ve likely come across no trespassing signs. But sometimes what lies beyond those signs isn’t actually private property. Instead, it’s public land, which should be legally accessible to all.

It’s a frequent enough occurrence in Wyoming that lawmakers took action last year to discourage the practice. House Bill 147 - Unlawful trespass signage-taking of wildlife makes knowingly posting incorrect no-trespassing signs a criminal offense with fines of up to $10,000.

“I think it works well for hunters and sportsmen,” said Rep. Karlee Provenza (D-Laramie), the bill’s sponsor. “I should have the right to access my public land. Anyone who's trying to infringe on my right to hunt and fish, which is a constitutional right on my public land, needs to be dealt with.”

Provenza speaks into a microphone on the House floor
Rep. Karlee Provenza (D-Laramie) talks on the House floor in 2024. (Ashton J. Hacke/Pedrodiniz)

House Bill 147 requires any person who has posted an illegal no trespassing sign to receive a written warning. If they fail to remove the sign, then they may receive a citation and a fine.

Though people reported seeing misleading no trespassing signs when the bill was under consideration in the Wyoming Legislature, the state Game and Fish Department, which enforces the rule, said it hasn’t received many reports since.

“We've had very few, if any, reports of any violations as of yet,” Rick King, chief game warden for Game and Fish, said. “So it's to date, it has not been much of an issue for us.”

Provenza said she’s heard from constituents who said they contacted Game and Fish because of the new law, but she was unsure exactly when those calls were made.

“It might have been before Game and Fish implemented policies around the law, but there was generally a little bit of confusion from Game and Fish,” Provenza said.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department Director Brian Nesvik testifies at the Wyoming Legislature's Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee meeting in Evanston in June 2023. (Mike Koshmrl/Pedrodiniz)

When new statutes are added to the books, education is required to get enforcing agencies up to speed. Game and Fish Director Brian Nesvik has been making sure department staff know about HB 147, Provenza said.

The low number of reports indicates to Craig Smith, the Wyoming Game and Fish deputy chief of the Wildlife Division, that the law alone might be a deterrent.

“Given the lack of enforcement or the lack of citations issued, at this point, it would seem that it's sufficient,” Smith said. “Of course, it's only one fall that we've gone through with that, and so we'll have to monitor that over time to see if there are any kind of different trends [that] transpire.”

While HB 147 may have created a deterrent to posting misleading no trespassing signs on public land, Provenza said more reforms may be needed to protect public land access. Some roads in Wyoming have been marked as private, when they are in fact public, which continues to cause confusion.

“People are going to follow the law, so if they think that there's some sort of chance that it's private property, they don't want to break the law and disrespect land owners,” Provenza said. “Everybody wants to respect private property rights.”

Calla Shosh is Pedrodiniz's 2024 summer intern. She is currently studying journalism at the University of Wyoming. Prior to this internship, she interned at Oil City News and has written columns for the Casper...

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  1. Some years ago, my son and I were confronted by a rancher as we were leaving state land along Rock Creek, near Buffalo. My son had just bagged his first archery deer. It was posted heavily, but I had maps and a GPS. This was pre-Xon software. It was not friendly and the persistent claim we were trespassing was aggressive. He bodily blocked the gate so we could not drag the deer out. I requested he call the F&G, as well as the Sheriff to have a talk. He backed down. A nice intro for my young teen son to greed. The next year we went back and there were new signs stating it is a no shooting safety zone and therefore closed to hunting. I contacted the State Land Board. Very poor response. I explained we were bow hunting and the ranch buildings were at least 800 yards away. Nope! I wrote a letter appealing the designation. Nope. Discovered later the rancher leased his property IMMEDIATELY surrounding his home to outfitters. Bottom line. It's is such a good-ole boy arrangement that there is little the taxpayer can do. I no longer go there. Pisses me off. He probably gets pasture impact depredation payments too. The deer pass through the State Land in the adjacent hills. Can't be having the public derailing the gravey train.

    1. I know the place your talking about. The year the safety zone signs went up I called the state # on the signs and asked why the area was posted. They inform me that it was a safety zone for the rancher and that no one was allowed to shoot inside of the posted area. I then informed them that I could see the rancher with others shooting deer. They promised to look into it. Nothing ever happened.

  2. I believe that there is probably more verbal miscue dialogue that takes place than physical signage. With onX and other GPS guided apps, this should be a simple conversation to correct, but nobody wants to be confrontational with an individual who is packing heat.

  3. how do we enforce this? our game and fish have done this almost everywhere around glenrock wyoming...

  4. Anyone with a GPS device knows if the signs are valid or if they can be ignored. Reporting it is optional. The person who did the illegal posting has broken the law at that point and should not get a written warning to stop breaking the law. If the law had any teeth to it there would probably be more reports.

  5. I've noticed that a few improper “no trespassing” signs have disappeared in the past year...don't know if HB 147 had anything to do with it, but regardless, it's a good law.

  6. Good work on HB 147 Rep.Karlee Provenza. Now we need to work on getting access to landlocked public lands.

    1. Backcountry Hunters and Anglers have been actively working this for a decade; WY's archaic corner crossing law is a focus for them, but WY residents are facing large private donors who have much to gain to keep the law in place.

  7. Nice! The “Outdoor Storehouse” is getting opened up! NICE!!!

    The FIRST AMENDMENT at it's best thank you WYOFILE...

  8. It's also a violation of federal law to post “private no trespassing” signs on public federal lands. Those who detect this type of violation should notify the appropriate Wyoming BLM District Office or US Forest Service Ranger District Office. Phone numbers for the Wyoming BLM District Offices are listed on the Wyoming State BLM webpage at https://www.blm.gov/wyoming . US Forest Service Ranger District Office phone numbers are listed on the Medicine Bow-Routt, Bridger-Teton, and Bighorn National Forest webpages. BLM Rangers and Forest Service Law Enforcement Officers (LEO's) would be happy to help.

  9. The G&F are overzealous enforcing hunter trespass, but state they haven't had any complaints about illegal trespass signage. The G&F know when they see these signs that they are illegal but are waiting for complaints before they deal with them. It is evident the G&F are working as security for landowners and doesn't want to work for the public.

    1. Oh, you must be referring to the G & F Cody Office. Up here, the game wardens do act as private agents and thugs for the larger ranches. One ranch in particular has dozens of public land parcels posted with trespass signs and the G & F does nothing yet if you get accused of crossing the line, the redshirts will be on you like flies on stink. Didn't know it's a federal offense to post BLM land, guess I'll contact them vs the G & F

    2. Overzealous? Unless it is some high profile poaching case try getting the G&F or Sheriff's department to pursue it. Cut fences, cut locks or just plain hopping the fence and nothing happens.

  10. I have no doubt that there are roads that were built by the county (public money) that are now closed to the public and still maintained by the county. That all needs to be looked at. Our politicians have been cheating us for decades.

  11. It's amusing to read that the the top brass with Game and Fish say there's really been no problem with false no trespass signs. Wrong. Many, many complaints have been submitted to G and F but they won't follow up. Why? When it's the large and powerful landowners who are posting the illegal signage, G and F cow-toes to the land barons and looks the other way. G and F need to stop acting as surrogates to the rich and powerful and commence to serving the citizens. Speaking of service, when is the G and F going to ticket Eshelman and his thugs for harassing hunters that legally accessed public land?