Corner Crossing: An Obvious Issue That Requires A Nuanced and Collaborative Approach

On August 25, 2004, the Wyoming Attorney General’s office issued an opinion that corner crossing does not violate the state’s “hunter trespass” law.

On April 29, 2022, after less than two hours of deliberation, a Carbon County jury found four Missouri hunters not guilty of Wyoming’s criminal trespass law for corner crossing to access public land to harvest elk.

The reality is: in Wyoming, no hunter has ever been found guilty of criminal trespass by a jury of their peers for corner crossing.

Corner crossing is an incredibly important issue to and for hunters, and for good reason. So much public land in our state, and across the western US, is checkerboarded or otherwise only accessible by stepping across a corner. At BHA, we believe that an issue as monumental as corner crossing – and access to public lands in general – deserves a proactive, comprehensive  solution, not merely decriminalization which might actually create more problems than it solves by generating confusion about airspace ownership rights.

To understand how, it’s important to know that there is no law in Wyoming that says “incidental travel through airspace” is criminal. So people who corner cross to access public land from public land don’t need an exemption from criminal statutes. Doing so may be helpful in preventing frivolous lawsuits against corner crossers, but it also implies that other “incidental travel through airspace” is criminal, when it is not.

While we truly appreciate the intent behind Wyoming’s Senate File 180, we don’t just want an exemption from criminal laws that already don’t really apply to corner crossing. We want to address corner crossing and public land access outside the narrow lens of “trespass,” and instead look towards policy that protects private property rights and public land access, and that will build mutual transparency, respect, and trust among hunters and anglers, landowners, and the agencies charged with enforcing the laws. 

We don’t feel that SF180 will achieve what public land owners need at this time. 

We intend to ask Wyoming Legislature's Travel, Recreation, and Wildlife Joint Committee for an interim discussion – meaning a full study over the next year – of public lands access issues, and for a direct and honest conversation about corner crossing. We don’t need to wait for a court decision to answer the question so many Wyoming residents are asking: how can we fully access our right to hunt and fish on public land? We hope you’ll join us in asking for this discussion, and to work toward a long-term, sustainable resolution that works for all Wyoming residents - public and private landowners alike.

About Sabrina King

BHA member Sabrina King has been a lobbyist and advocate for 14 years, advocating across the West for laws and policies that benefit the Mountain Region’s land and people. She is based in the southern Wind River Mountains in Wyoming, where she lives in a

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