A Big Loss For Hunters

On Monday, December 8th, the Appellate Court in Illinois reversed the conviction of two individuals for "willful obstruction or interference with the lawful taking of wild animals under section 2(a) of the Hunter and Fishermen Interference Prohibition Act (Act) (720 ILCS 125/2(a)" People v. Holm, 2014 IL App (3d) 130582.

Adam and Daniel Holm, followed two deer hunters (one who happened to be a conservation officer for the state and arrested the pair on the spot for hunter harassment; kudos to him) on private property making excessive noise including whistling, clapping, laughing, revving their ATV’s and throwing gravel, and shaking tin cans with rocks inside. The Holms did this with the intent to drive away deer that the deer hunters were pursuing legally on their own private property. The Holms were convicted at trial level and fined $175 (a laughable sentence in itself considering the steep fines faced by hunters for honest mistakes in the field, but a discussion for another day).

The Appellate Court reversed their conviction because the Holms apparently stayed on their side of the property boundary and harassed the hunters from their own private property. The Court found this to be a permissive enjoyment of their own private property. Even though, their entire intent was to disturb the hunting efforts of their neighbors who were legally hunting deer on their own private property.

Doesn’t it follow that the permissive use of your own private property ends when that use interferes with your neighbor’s use and enjoyment of his or her own property? Why would the court not take into account the effect of a particular use on the properties nearby? The Court’s decision here not only affects hunters whose neighbors may have some interest in disturbing the hunting efforts next door, but to landowners in general. Most states, including Kansas, Colorado, and Missouri have laws in place such as this to protect hunters from harassment but we can only hope the reasoning here is not extended to those states.