Trespassing on farm land is illegal
A cranberry grower found that four-wheelers and ATVs caused damage to his bog, tore up plants and created ruts. The bog needed to be replanted at a cost of thousands of dollars. Some blueberry producers have discovered damage by snowmobiles where tracks were left in the fields and damaged plants. Other farmers experienced damages to fences from snowmobiles and in some cases the fences were actually cut. Producers of potatoes, grains and forages have suffered from damage to their crops.
Under the Trespass to Property Act, people cannot be on farmland or forested areas without the permission of the landowner. It’s a serious problem, and it’s getting worse.
Trespassers who are found guilty are liable on summary conviction to a fine of between $200 and $2,000. They may also have to pay restitution for any damages they caused, along with court costs. If a vehicle is involved, it may be seized and detained for up to 48 hours.
As biosecurity measures are becoming more important, trespassing on farm land also has the potential to spread pests and diseases. There is a risk that ATVs and other vehicles traveling between fields could unknowingly spread pests and diseases. The same applies to people who are walking between fields and carrying soil on their footwear.
Many livestock operations have implemented biosecurity measures to protect the health of their animals. Trespassing may result in the spread of diseases which would have costly consequences for producers and the industry as a whole.
The problem is even more critical, given the number of cases of potato tampering
Producers can protect crops and livestock by giving notice that prohibits trespassing. Although people need the owner’s permission to enter farmland, landowners can also erect “No Trespassing” signs. Under the act, where the notice in writing is by means of a sign, it must be posted so that it is clearly visible in daylight under normal conditions from the approach to each usual point of access to the premises to which it applies.
There are some exceptions. People are able to carry out a number of activities on forest land unless there is a sign which prohibits entry. These activities include fishing, hunting, hiking or other forms of recreational activity. If possible, people are encouraged to contact the landowner.
Some producers are taking more proactive measures to detect trespassing, including the installation of surveillance cameras. The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Prince Edward Island Potato Board can provide information about possible funding options.
If trespassers are noticed in fields or on property, producers are being encouraged to contact the local detachment of the RCMP or a conservation officer who will follow up on the alleged offence. The conservation officers can be contacted at 902368-4808. The number is monitored 24 hours a day. When leaving a message, producers should leave their name and telephone number, the location where the trespass is happening and, if possible, a description of the person and/or vehicle license number.
For a copy of the act, go to gov.pe.ca/law/statutes/pdf/t06.pdf