The very first and most important thing to keep in mind when dealing with trespassers is your own safety. No matter how tempting it is to confront trespassers yourself, it’s best to turn to law enforcement officials and let them investigate the matter instead.
But you can take prevention into your own hands. These simple steps will help you protect your woods from trespassers:
- Know your land. Take time to roam through and inspect your property. If you’re physically able, walk the boundary lines and make sure they match your legal description. Make regular inspections a part of your routine. A surveyor or forester can help.
- Mark your land. Paint your boundary lines or trees frequently enough that the paint is always visible. If you have a serious trespassing problem or just want to be on the safe side, consider posting “No Trespassing” signs on your property. In most states, you have to post the signs fairly regularly (every 25 to 50 feet) along the property lines and at all entries. Your signs can even specify which activities you allow on your land and which ones you don’t. Laws about posting vary from state to state, so consult with a county sheriff, game warden or other local resource to make sure you’re posting properly.
- Control access to your land. This may mean fencing your property or installing sturdy gates at your entry points. Keep in mind that while you want to discourage unwanted visitors, you don’t want to create dangerous conditions or block any state or county roads on your land.
- Meet your neighbors. Good neighbors can make for good protection, especially if you don’t live on your land. Make a point of meeting adjacent landowners, local game wardens and foresters—anyone who can keep an eye on things—and letting them know they can call you anytime they notice an issue on your property.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If a serious trespassing problem comes to your attention, take it to the experts. Your forester, legal counsel and your local law enforcement agencies are there to help you.
Trespassing breaks the law, and law enforcement agencies will treat the offenders accordingly.