Sask. organization concerned trespassing change will impact wildlife population controls

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WATCH ABOVE: An organization predicts proposed changes to Sask.'s trespassing law will result in less wildlife population control and more danger to drivers – Nov 29, 2018

Could proposed changes to the province’s trespassing law have a detrimental chain reaction? The Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation (SWF) predicts revisions to the law could potentially affect every single person in Saskatchewan who does any amount of driving on provincial roadways.

On Tuesday, the government introduced legislation that would amend the Trespass to Property Act. If the province gets its way, hunters will need to track down landowners for permission before they go on private land.

READ MORE: Sask. government wants prior consent to access rural land in Trespass Act changes

“Most hunters in our province seek consent before they go on land, it’s a well regarded practice and we hope that it continues,” Justice Minister Don Morgan said.

SWF executive director Darrell Crabbe said while this is true, making it a must-have before hunting presents some major hurdles.

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Individuals can readily access RM maps in an effort to get consent from a landowner but many farms are registered corporations not under a person’s name.

“With the exponential reduction in landlines all across Saskatchewan, trying to identify the individual let alone get the phone number is near impossible,” Crabbe said.

The changes come after calls for more to be done about rural property crime and unauthorized vehicles on farmland like ATV’s and snowmobiles.

“Does the new legislation ease some of those concerns or provide a platform for correcting those issues?” Crabbe said.

“We think that’s probably not going to be the case.”

READ MORE: Sask. government finds majority support prior consent in trespass survey

North American research has shown the number one reason hunters give up on the sport is because of difficulties accessing productive hunting areas.

The wildlife federation said it’s already received calls from fed-up and frustrated hunters this week who say they plan on hanging up their firearms in light of these proposed changes.

According to Crabbe, there are approximately 70,000 licensed hunters but if that number declines or there’s less hunting in general, it could cause big problems. He said it’s the only form of wildlife population control in the province.

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“The potential out there is that it could create some unfortunate scenarios with population increases in certain areas of the province,” he added.

“I guess that’s something we’re going to have to watch very closely.”

This is a photo of a deer in a Saskatchewan field. File / Global News

Crop damage caused by big game or an increase in motor vehicle collisions are the biggest concerns among SWF membership.

Joe Hargrave, the minister responsible for SGI, said he’s not sure much will change with revisions to trespassing legislation.

“They’re assuming there’s going to be less hunters,” Hargrave said.

“I’ve hunted all my life and I hunted with permission and everybody I know hunts with permission so I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

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