Some recent guide interaction on the Umpqua River raises the question of what recourse does an angler or hunter have when outing is negatively impacted by the deliberate actions of others.
In the June 17th, 2011 issue of Western Outdor News, Carrie Wilson’s column, “DFG Q & A” deals with the topic. Carrie is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game and her column is usually the highlight of each issue of the outdoor newspaper that I read. In fewer words, here is her take on the subject.
Carrie states that such interference can run the gamut from dog field trials, dog training, falconry, fishing, hunting shooting or trapping and quotes fellow department employee, Lt. Todd Toggnazzini who stated that the relevant law is: Fish and Game Code section 2009 which allows punishment as an infraction for the first offense, but the punishment can escalate to a misdemeanor for a second conviction within a two year period. The law is somemwhat different from most Fish and Game Code sections in that the law enforcement official has to determine that the offender had specific intent to interfere with the legal outdoor activity the plaintiff is engaged in.
Examples of such interference can be: frightening away animals, placing unauthorized signs or blocking or denying access to places when not legally authorized to do so, placing food on lands not owned or authorized to use for the purpose of drawing birds or game animals away from areas where they can legally be hunted, making noise or commotion for the purpose of scaring fish, or limiting fishing success.
California’s view regarding intentional interference regarding outdoor activities pursued by others pretty much calls in line with other states.
That said, the actual prosection of such activity is difficult to prove. Here is what I would do if so harrassed.
(1) – I would determine that any interference was intentional.
(2) – I would use my cell phone to call a number, or pretend to call, so that they would start worrying about being caught in the act.
(3) – I would take pictures, even with a cell phone, and, if possible, I would use a flash so that there is no doubt that the interfering party knows that they are being photographed. Such activity will have them worried for weeks.
(4) – I would get contact information for any witnesses to the confrontation and the less subjective the witness, the more important their testimony.
(5)- I would file a civil suit if I can identify the offenders. The maximum amount of a civil suit is fairly meager, but it can force the other party to respond to the suit to avoid an automatic finding in your favor.
(6) – If possible, write to a local newspaper (usually a letter to the editor) and try to encourage a local reporter to think there might be a worthwhile story in the occurence.
(7) – Pursue other forms of media. There are websites and blogs that have surprising readership. Keep in mind that anonymity benefits the offenders and reducing or taking that away should make things less likely to reoccur.
If these interferers in the outdoor activities of others can be made to associate a price with such behavior, that behavior will become less common. It won’t make these people better persons, but they will become less of a problem.