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winniewalleye777

Hunting the Tracks

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In the past, my family and I would hunt the railroad tracks on opening day before hitting our private land. We recently heard that hunting the tracks is now illegal (an obvious liability for the railroad). We decided that no rooster is worth a trespassing fine. What is the law on this?

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I've been doing a little digging. So far I have not found anything with regard to railroad right-of-way accept one case in which someone was found guilty of discharging a firearm toward private property from a right-of-way. In this case, the railroad did not object to the use of firearms on their property. They didn't file the charges, the farmer did for the shooting toward his private property. This seems to suggest that the railroad property is private and there may not be any laws that prohibit the use of firearms other than the same tresspass laws for most anyone else in MN. If the railroad wants to restrict us they would have to post the property just like we do, with the exception of ag land. I have written to the DNR to inquire and will pass along the reply I get.

I figured I'd research the Central Lakes Trail that runs from Fergus Falls to Osakis as well as the Lake Wobegon Trail that runs from Osakis to St. Joeseph among other places. These are former railroad properties, which are now used for bicycling, hiking, etc.

The Lake Wobegon Trail is off-limits to firearms, period. The Central Lakes Trail however, which is managed by the DNR, is open to hunting and firearms use but only from September 15 - March 30. This would seem to suggest that these trails we have scattered around the country may differ in this regard.

Bob

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As was posted already, it has been illegal for quite a few years. However I see many hunters doing it, have never seen it enforced, and I have a few areas where I hunt the tracks.

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bnsf has signs up on their tracks in a few places between benson and appleton. "property of bnsf no hunting/tresspassing". ive seen tickets get written out to pheasant hunters 2 separate occasions in the last 5 years.

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from what i have been told by a CO...railroads fall under "private land ownership" if its posted, dont hunt it, if it isnt...go ahead.

a railroad is not responsible for any hunting accidents that occur on its property just as a landowner isnt responsible if a hunter he/she allows on her land has an incident. as long as the railroad/landowner don't charge a fee to hunt they are not liable for any injury on the property.

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I hunt RR tracks all the time. When a train comes by we just move to the side and the engineer usually waves to us. I would think if it was illegal there would probably be somebody on the road waiting to chew some butt.

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Most railroads are indeed private property. For the most part they are no different than other private properties. Some railroads beds have been abandoned, vacated, etc. Like in the case of Bob's instance above referencing the Central Lakes Trail, the railroad bed was once Burlington Northern's and has since been abandoned. I believe it is now state land that can be used for public use, including hunting. FYI, Bob, I've shot pheasants off this trail! grin

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From Tim Hage at the DNR.

"Active railroad beds are private property. You will need to get permission to hunt them."

Bob

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It is illegal, and if it is a union pacific line and you get observed on the track by any train personel I can assure you will get ticketed, and if an oncoming train or track service operation has to stop due to you being on the track I can almost assure the union pacific will prosecute. Big railroad operations such as UP and BNSF are very strict against it.

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From the research I have done:

It is illegal if it isn't allowed by the railroad but they must post their property just like any private property. If there is a state mandate similar to agricultural trespass laws, I'd like to see it. I have not found any such law as you refer to Harvey...yet.

Abandoned railroads that have been converted into nature/bicycle/hiking/snowmobile trails may be regulated independently. Some allow hunting while others do not. Case in point is my reference to the Wobegon vs. Central Lakes trails. The Wobegon does allow hunting (Sept. 15 - Mar. 30) however the Central Lakes Trail is off limits (no firearms at any time).

Bob

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