Tres­pass­ing on farm land is illegal

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - COMMUNITY/ENTERTAINMENT - This ar­ti­cle was from the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Fish­eries. For com­ments and sug­ges­tions, email wemack­in­non@gov.pe.ca.

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

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