By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
The owner of a Carbon County ranch suing four Missouri hunters for crossing into the ranch’s private airspace wants the case returned to state district court.
Iron Bar Holdings, in a motion filed in U.S. District Court on April 14, told the court it had no jurisdiction over the case, which stems from allegations the hunters trespassed on Iron Bar’s property while moving from one piece of public land to another.
“While it is true (the hunters) trespassed across (Iron Bar’s) property to reach land managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management, that fact is of no consequence to the jurisdictional analysis here” the motion said.
The case stems from an incident in late September when the hunters used a “ladder-like” device to cross from one parcel of public land to another.
Southern Wyoming has a “checkerboard” land pattern in which public and private lands are intermingled. Those properties often share corners, with two public parcels resting diagonally from each other.
The hunters did not actually touch the private property owned by Iron Bar when they moved from one public parcel to another, but the company alleged they violated private airspace by “corner crossing.”
The four hunters are facing criminal trespass charges in Carbon County and Iron Bar had filed a civil lawsuit against them as well over the alleged trespass.
But the hunters successfully argued that because the lawsuit had to do with access to federal land, the case should be heard in federal court and it was moved there on March 31.
Iron Bar, in its request to move the case back to state district court, maintained that there is no issue for the federal court to settle, since both the lawsuit and criminal charges were filed under Wyoming trespass laws.
In addition, Iron Bar did nothing to prevent the hunters from entering public land, it just enforced its rights to prevent trespass on its private property.
“(Iron Bar’s) claim for civil trespass is that (the hunters) made an unauthorized entry upon (Iron Bar’s) private property,” its filing said. “(Iron Bar) does not claim the (hunters) cannot enter public lands, only that the (hunters) are not permitted to enter (Iron Bar’s) privately owned property and airspace.”
As a result, the hunters have failed to show that the case should be tried in federal court, Iron Bar’s motion said.