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IPFS News Link • Tennessee

TN Judges Rein in Game Wardens, Declaring Warrantless Searches on Private Land Unconstitutional

• Outdoor Life

A recent court ruling in Tennessee restricts some of the powers that the state's game wardens have traditionally held when policing hunters and anglers on private land. According to that ruling, which was handed down by a Court of Appeals on Thursday, wildlife officers can no longer enter private property to monitor, look for, or otherwise investigate wildlife crimes without a warrant.

Although it might surprise some Americans, entering and surveilling private lands without obtaining a warrant or notifying the landowner have long been standard practices for many state fish and game agencies. In most states that allow this, game wardens have more power than police and other law enforcement officers when it comes to warrantless searches. Among other privileges, this statutory authority permits game wardens to enter privately owned lands without permission, and to conceal themselves while investigating suspected violations of hunting and fishing laws. These powers are summarized in a Tennessee law that allows officers with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency "to go upon any property, outside of buildings, posted or otherwise" in order to enforce wildlife laws.  

1 Comments in Response to

Comment by PureTrust
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In a way, wildlife government people are doing good when they protect wildlife according to their laws. But the judgment that changed this won't cause them to stop until a few of them have been made to pay. Why not? The judge's orders are not the enforcement of those orders. The orders are only enforced when people file complaints with the police and sheriff, and win those complaints in a way that forces law enforcement to do their job. A simple judgement in and of itself does nothing.