Wisconsin bill would limit game warden access

Introduced on the heels of a recent Wisconsin Supreme Court decision, the Assembly bill aims to trim the authority of a conservation warden to enter private land.

The measure, Assembly Bill 411, would prohibit Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources game wardens from setting foot on private property without reasonable suspicion a crime has occurred. Current “open field doctrine” allows wardens to inspect open areas located on private land without a warrant or probable cause, which in the past has led to dangerous altercations.

In 2012, two DNR game wardens went on the land of Robert Stietz in the dark and, when the armed property owner confronted the officers that he mistook for trespassers, the wardens wrestled his rifle away and drew their own guns on him. Stiez was subsequently charged and convicted of a number of crimes including resisting a law enforcement officer, which the Wisconsin Supreme Court last month overturned 4-2

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