MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY – Dozens of people recently attended a post hunting season open house that was hosted at the Bergen Hall.
While the nearly 50 participants were primarily interested in hearing the information that on March 13 was presented by Fish and Wildlife as well as Alberta Conservation officers, some also had questions pertaining to the legal definition of what constitutes trespassing, said a lead organizer.
“It was actually more informative based,” Levi Neufeld, district officer at the Sundre Fish and Wildlife Office, told the Albertan on March 21, adding people were largely interested in hearing about the issues he’d highlighted for the evening.
Those included but weren’t limited to predator compensation programs, haystack complaints, the respective roles between Fish and Wildlife as well as Conservation officers, and what landowners can do to assist the province’s stewards who are responsible for monitoring and protecting wildlife and public lands use.
“It was mostly a one-sided conversation,” said Neufeld.
“We were able to talk about the bear matrix and how we respond to bear calls, and things that we take into account for black and grizzly bears,” he said, adding there were also representatives with Bear Smart present.
The few queries that were voiced seemed to revolve largely around what by definition of law constitutes trespassing, he said.
“Some of the questions that did come up, was about the rules and regulations for trespassing, and what is the definition of trespassing on private property, including oil lease sites,” he said.
While there are under the Petty Trespass Act two different types of charges, Neufeld said that it essentially boils down to whether a parcel of land is visibly being used for any number of purposes including cultivation or agriculture, livestock, or personal dwellings.
“Then it’s deemed private property,” he said. “Therefore, no one can enter onto that land without verbal or written consent of that landowner.”
Anyone found and proven to be in violation of the Petty Trespass Act potentially faces a fine of $600, he said.
Overall, the open house seemed to be well received and Neufeld said he’d even heard from a few people who wanted to attend but were unable and so followed up with him after the fact seeking the Cole’s Notes version of the night’s presentation.
Having previously done his first such open house engagement in Eagle Hill, Neufeld said he hopes to follow up this year’s presentation in Bergen with a session in Caroline in 2024 as part of a multi-year circuit that at some point will eventually include Olds and Didsbury.
Although the message is similar every year, he said the open houses offer an annual opportunity to engage with residents in the district to discuss the post hunting season as well as public lands regulations and any updates or changes to government regulations.