Dennis Sun: Laws That Deal With Rights Of Private Land Owners Needs To Be Updated

Dennis Sun writes: The state laws dealing with trespassing on private lands in Wyoming are really antiquated as they havent changed much since the state was formed on July 10, 1890.

Dennis Sun

February 20, 20223 min read

Dennis sun wyo
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

By Dennis Sun, Wyoming Livestock Roundup

The right to own a home, business or land in America is a right we all take very personally and seriously. Even though we are taught to respect this right, at times there are some who disrespect the laws of private property. In a western state, with large portions of public lands intermingled with private lands, the disrespect is more frequent.

The laws dealing with trespassing on private lands in Wyoming are really antiquated as they haven’t changed much since the state was formed on July 10, 1890. The laws concerning trespassing while hunting have changed, but not the laws of trespassing on private lands. 

The laws regarding trespassing in Wyoming and other western states are few and general. But remember, it doesn’t matter if you are 60 miles from any town or in the middle of town, the same law applies to all.

Wyoming law states, “Criminal trespass is simply the entry or remaining upon the land or premises belonging to any other person who is to leave or stay away from the property by the owner of the property, a person in legal control of the property, by a peace officer or as an agent for either the owner or legal occupant.”

Another form of notification is through the posting of any sign reasonably likely to come to the attention of a potential intruder. Wyoming has no specific requirements for the type of sign on posting locations.

Unlawful entry into an occupied structure, which is essentially a specific charge of trespassing with the intent to commit battery, is a felony, otherwise trespassing is a misdemeanor.  

With intermingled lands, trespassing on private lands has been an issue of late. I’ve had seismic companies, pipeline surveyors, rock hunters and outdoor enthusiasts trespass on my private lands, and they knew they were on private lands. People with ATVs are the worst. They think the world is theirs to go where they want. To get out of charges, all they have to do is lie their way out of it. 

There are still those who respect private lands and watch out for where they are. I’m thankful for those individuals and I make sure to treat them with respect. The culture of trespassing seems to be growing. They would sure have trouble being in Texas, where one just does not trespass. People there really respect private lands.

The trespassing laws for hunting are different. It is the hunter’s responsibility to know where they are. The private landowner doesn’t have to prove where the trespasser is. 

With all the GPS technology these days, not knowing where one is located is not an issue. It sure makes it simpler for all. 

Respect for each other’s property would go a long way towards solving the trespassing issue. You can tell all you need to know about a society from how it treats animals and private lands. 

Respect would help make it so we wouldn’t need new laws.

The Wyoming Livestock Roundup is a weekly agriculture newspaper available in print and online. To subscribe, visit or call 1-800-967-1647.

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Dennis Sun

Agriculture Columnist