Wyoming jury finds corner crossers not guilty

The hunters escaped criminal trespass charges, but still face a civil suit.

 

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BACKSTORY 
Four hunters in Wyoming were charged with trespassing on land they never touched last fall (“Hunter hopscotch,” March 2022). The men used a stepladder to hopscotch over the corners where private ranch and Bureau of Land Management land parcels meet, alternating like the squares of a checkerboard. But like other Western states, Wyoming has no statute explicitly allowing or prohibiting “corner crossing,” the practice of accessing public land where its corners touch. The charges set off a debate over what constitutes trespassing: the hunters never set foot on private land, but the ranch owners claim that doesn’t matter because the hunters violated the airspace above their property, and that, they believe, constitutes trespassing. A civil and a criminal lawsuit followed.

FOLLOWUP  
On April 29, a Carbon County, Wyoming, jury found the four hunters not guilty of criminal trespass. However, a civil lawsuit against the men is still pending in federal court. While dismissing local trespass charges sets no broader legal precedent for state or federal corner crossing cases, a federal ruling could impact public land access across the West. The ranch owner requested the case be sent back to state court. In the meantime, trespass laws around corner crossing remain “clear as mud,” the hunters’ attorney Ryan Semerad said during the trial, according to WyoFile.

Kylie Mohr is an editorial intern for High Country News writing from Montana. Email her at [email protected] or submit a letter to the editor. See our letters to the editor policy. 

 

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