Run ins with land owners or the police

Lacrossedad

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I am getting more and more into wildlife photography. I have found some really great areas near my home to do this, but the areas are marsh and some open fields. I worry about being on someone's property. I look for postings but don't ever see any. I made some efforts to find who owns some of these areas. State Highway says to call local power company, who tell me to call State Highways. In another case the local county government tells me to call the State, who in turn tell me to call the local city, who then tell me they have no idea as to where I am even talking about. As anyone been approached by the police or property owner while try to get some pics?
 

Braineack

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it' really not trespassing if there are no signs/fences/barriers or anything else that would make you think it's not publically accessible land. if the owner comes up and trespasses you, then you show up again, it's trespassing.

hint: I like to play lawyer on the internet.
 

tirediron

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it' really not trespassing if there are no signs/fences/barriers or anything else that would make you think it's not publically accessible land. if the owner comes up and trespasses you, then you show up again, it's trespassing.

hint: I like to play lawyer on the internet.
As me old Mum used to say, "You may not know whose land it is, but you know whose land it ISN'T!" That said, there should be readily accessible maps that will tell you if it's privately or publicly owned. If it's public land, and there are not signs, I wouldn't worry at all. If it's private land and not signed, fenced, etc, and doesn't appear to be in use (eg a farmer's field), then I probably wouldn't worry too much about it. The police aren't likely to be an issue, and if you are approached by a landowner, simply explain the situation and offer him a complimentary print for your use of his land.
 

benhasajeep

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I have had one instance of people reporting that the group of Jeeps we were in was on private land. When in fact we knew we were on public land and had town tax maps that proved it. It was a tense situation as the people were armed (rifles / shotguns in hand). The group I was with was also armed (concealed) but we backed off but didn't leave the area entirely. We called the police. As we knew these people were trying to protect their "illegal" crops somewhere out in the woods. The police met us and got in the Jeeps with us. We started back up the trail and sure enough they came towards us again in their truck.

Long story short they were arrested. And they did eventually find 3 fields of "crops".

What you have to watch is not all public land is public use. Who ever does the local taxing on property is the best place to find what's private and what's public. All the towns in my area have tax maps. Easiest way to determine if something is owned or not.
 

Designer

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I made some efforts to find who owns some of these areas.
The County Assessor or County Clerk can give you the name and address (and possibly the phone number?) of the owner. The hardest part will be to know exactly which piece of land you're talking about. Exactly.

One possibly easier method (although less reliable) is to stop at the nearest house and ask.
 

deeky

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Two resources -

Plat Maps - they are quite detailed maps that lay out who owns which properties and their contact information. Many libraries have them, but as a reference material, they cannot be checked out. You can also buy them, but it could be a relatively significant chunk of change.

County/City Websites - Where I'm at, the two immediate counties and the city all have interactive maps on their websites that will tell you exactly who owns the property and their contact address. But I think these may be the only 3 entities in the state that have the resources to put this up.

Land ownership is public record, so if nothing else, you can go to your county assessor's office and they will tell you who owns it.
 

snowbear

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Check with the local or state planning office, or assessor's office. It might also be possible to find the property parcel information online - more governments are making this data available, typically on the County or State IT website. Search for "GIS Data" and look for something like an Excel spreadsheet or CSV (comma delimited file).
 
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Overread

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Get yourself some of those cheap business cards and put your website on it where you post your photography too. Even if you're not selling anything it gives a sense that you're honestly there about what you're doing rather than "snooping around with a big camera." Appearing to be a "professional" can sometimes ease some tensions/concerns with people.

Otherwise it does sound like you're making good effort to find the owners of local land; also I agree with asking locals they are often going to have at least a rough idea of who owns what. Local out-doors groups might also be good to check in with - walkers/ramblers, horse riders, etc... are likely to have better idea of local access rights
 

k9sniper

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There is a app for your smartphone called onx map that will show you property lines and who the owner of the land is . It's very useful.
 

BananaRepublic

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Fake your own death on a patch one day and see who comes out.
 

benhasajeep

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I've always considered it easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.

Well it deppends on what your doing I think. I am in a Jeep club and we try to practice "Tread Lightly, Leave no trace. But because others go out and tear up land. Anyone who goes out tears up land. Same with bikes, ATV's, sleds, etc.

Then you have land people protect their hunting areas.
 

slane

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Go to the county clerk or tax district and they should either have maps or be able to tell you. To trespass there does NOT have to be a fence (sorry Braineack). Here is Cornell Law Library's definition, notice no mention of fencing: "Trespass is defined by the act of knowingly entering another person’s property without permission. Such action is held to infringe upon a property owner’s legal right to enjoy the benefits of ownership." Full definition here: Trespass

As an amateur wildlife photographer and avid birder it is at time tempting but . . .

I live in Texas, so crossing that boundary (fence or "line in the dirt") could be hazardous.

Be safe and smart.
 

fmw

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I've always considered it easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.

Well it deppends on what your doing I think. I am in a Jeep club and we try to practice "Tread Lightly, Leave no trace. But because others go out and tear up land. Anyone who goes out tears up land. Same with bikes, ATV's, sleds, etc.

Then you have land people protect their hunting areas.

I understand. I recently found a tree stand back in my woods. I took it down and destroyed it. Nobody asked permission to put it up. If they had I might have agreed to it.
 

Fstop-

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I live in the western US and have run into a few people who believe or pretend they own land they really don't. It can be a touchy possibly dangerous subject/experience.

-One guy I told him I was going to call the sheriff and get it figured out he backed down and back tracked real quick.
-A couple of the people were scary.. illegal growers and meth heads better to just leave and not end up in a bad place with them.
- A couple of the people were just old rednecks who really think they own the land due to lack of understanding, they were also deeply tied into the local community so it would need to go to court before the sheriff will inform his fellow member of the "ole boys club" it is not his land.
 

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