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Boat Searches


EBass

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This just in. MN Surpreme court ruled in favor for boat searches with or without a reason. I'm sure this applies to Ice shanties to.

I saw it on the kare 11 dot com front page.

It really doesn't matter to me much, just though I'd share the info.

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Clap Clap Clap!!!
They can search me anytime they please if it means they have the laws they need to keep poachers in check. If ya got nothing to hide you got nothing to worry about. Paul

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Paul Rohweller
Pine to Prairie Guide Service
218-962-3387
N.P.A.A. 425
http://fishingminnesota.com/pinetoprairie

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Totally agree with that. It should have been a law a long time ago. Maybe now those greedy ones will finally get what they have coming.

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I'm also in favor of checking fishing boats & ice houses on the water. I thought it was ridiculous that a CO couldn't check your livewell while you were fishing. That's their job. Protect the resource. Vern

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Search my boat and/or ice house without a defined probable-cause for game violations? Well, how do I know it stops there? Would this precedent extend to a truck, atv, camper, RV, automobile, cabin or any other enclosure/vehicle which may be considered used for hunting/fishing?

I like my civil rights just the way they are... I mean were. Be careful what you wish for...

Rob

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I agree with Aqua. What I'm worried about is the rogue warden or the one with an agenda. Random searches are patently unconstitutional and although I want game violaters caught, I don't want hundreds harrassed to catch that one. Probable cause is considered a good thing everywhere else; why not in your boat or fish house too?

mm

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I agree with you guys also. I'm not for random searches & road blocks without probable cause. But the last ruling left CO's powerless to enforce many fish & game laws. I'd say if they witness you fishing on the water or you have an ice house they should be able to check you for posession. Touchy subject for sure, but you purchased a license to fish for & harvest a protected resource. Vern

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I also have nothing to hide, and I shouldn't have to prove it. Purchasing a license does not constitute a loss of civil rights. A boat is no different than a home, car, ice shack, etc. Law enforcment shouldn't be allowed to enter or search you, or your property unless there's probable cause. To allow this would open the doors to the abuse of rights of individuals by "rouge" law enforcment officers, as stated previously. My experiences with game wardens have been mixed. Unlike police officers, wardens have "different" guidelines for thier views and comprehension of individual circumstances. Bottom line...What one warden claims as legal, the next may not, and vice versa. One longtime warden in the county I live in was caught "setting" people up. Baiting of deer is illegal in Wi. The warden accused a bow hunter of baiting deer with corn. The warden cited him for baiting after showing him the "evidence", corn on the ground. Little did the warden know that the hunter had motion cameras, and caught the warden dumping the corn on the ground. True story. The warden has been a thorn in the sides of many people in Marathon County Wi. Mention the name Don M*zz*, and you'll hear an earful of negative responses. The incident was kept "hush, hush", and retirement was allowed for the scoundrel. I say put him in jail and fine the Crap out of him......at least the equal $$$ amount of bogus fines others have paid to the state due to the false or unsubstantiated claims by this clown. Just my .04 cents.

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http://groups.msn.com/canitbeluck

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I don't think that this is an instance of anyone giving up or losing their civil rights.
It's the only effective way for conservation officer's to do their job. They need to perform searches to catch the bad guys, unlike a police officer/deputy who responds to calls, runs traffic, serves civil papers. CO's aren't getting these calls, so therefor they've got to go looking for the violators. How else can they go looking for these guys without sticking their nose in a few peoples fishouses, boats, etc.? If they have no problem with you, they move on. (In my personal experiences). If they have a problem, or suspect a problem, they might take it to the next level.
I just feel that their hands were tied pretty tight when they couldn't perform pc searches. Performing stake outs is about all they are left with, and that to me, is a tremendous, non-effective, waste of time money and skill of a law enforcement officer of the wilderness.
Let's open our doors to these guys, offer them a coffee, and stay out of trouble, eh?

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Hemlock
"Throw'm back"

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If they can't search your boat or shack why do we bother having limits? I've got nothing to hide. But there are alot of game hog's out there that do. Give me a break on the civil rights thing.

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Creators

Before this search thing was challenged I just went along with all the searches that have been performed on me.
I never had anything to hide and submitted to some Gestapo style searches.
It always felt a little strange having someone rummage through your gear. Since the ruling I've felt a feeling of freedom knowing that sort of thing cant happen again. Thank God Law enforcement cant do the random searches like a CO is allowed to perform.
There is no way a CO can effectively patrol their area by themselves even with "search at will" ability's. This is why the sportsmen have to be involved as the eyes and ears for the CO. Problem is have you every tried calling a CO? You'll get an answering machine most of the time and any hot tip of a game violation goes on "record" instead of a bust. Lets get more COs in the field working together with sportsman.

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If anybody wants to read the decision, it's available on teh MN State Supreme Court's website:

http://www.courts.state.mn.us/opinions/sc/current/op012181-0925.html


The case hinged on two quesions.

First, whether or not this case involved a stop. The court ruled it did not because the CO merely approached a parked boat to engage in conversation. It would appear that this section would rule out future extensions of searches beyond waters and ramps.

Second, the court had to decide whether or not searches are "reasonable" under the 4th Amendment. Here's what they had to say:

"The Fourth Amendment prohibits “unreasonable searches and seizures.” For a search to be held unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment the one searched must have had an “actual expectation of privacy” in the area searched and that expectation of privacy must be “one that society is prepared to recognize as reasonable.” In this case, as the district court found, Colosimo refused to allow inspection of his boat out of principle because he “truly believes that the officer could not legally search his boat.”

We must decide whether under these circumstances Colosimo [the defendent] had a reasonable expectation of privacy. We have stated the “existence of probable cause is relevant only when a person has demonstrated a legitimate or reasonable expectation of privacy.”(concluding “the open-fields doctrine permits a conservation officer to enter almost any area in order to enforce the state’s game and fish laws”)....

[in this case] we must consider both the nature of recreational fishing and the characteristics of an open boat, as well as the fact that this request occurred in open season near a game fishing habitat....

Accordingly, we hold that because Colosimo had no reasonable expectation of privacy, the areas of his open boat or other conveyance used to typically store or transport fish were subject to inspection pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 97A.251, subd. 1(3)."


On the question of fishhouses:

In stark contrast to Larsen [the ice shack case], the minimal intrusion involved here is markedly less than that occurring when the privacy of the private, home-like dwelling of a fish house is invaded. Here, we are asked to conclude that an angler has a reasonable expectation of privacy in every area of his open boat, including those areas where fish are normally stored or transported. Under these facts, Colosimo did not have a legitimate expectation of privacy in certain areas of his already stopped open boat, where fish are typically stored or transported."

"Our decision in this case does not grant conservation officers power beyond that of other law enforcement officers.[3] Rather, the difference between the inspection permitted under the facts of this case and searches impermissible under the Fourth Amendment is that fishing is a largely recreational privilege that anglers choose to engage in with knowledge of the regulations governing their conduct. Our decision merely acknowledges that an expectation of privacy in all parts of an open boat or other conveyance, admittedly used to transport fish, is not reasonable. Therefore, a limited inspection of certain parts of the open boat would not be prohibited under the Fourth Amendment."

[This message has been edited by SpikeRoberts (edited 09-26-2003).]

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For those of you that find Constitutional problems with this decision, you will find an ally in #88. Alan Page's dissent reads in part:

"By its decision today, the court permits precisely that which the Supreme Court in Frost [a Us Supreme Court case from 1926]prohibited — it grants the privilege of taking wildlife conditioned on the infringement of constitutional rights. By concluding that one who engages in the regulated activity of fishing has no expectation of privacy in the areas of an open boat or other conveyance used to typically store or transport fish, the court ensures that every such search will be reasonable, even when based on a conservation officer’s whim, thereby making a warrant based on probable cause unnecessary"

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I am all for CO's doing their jobs. I just want something more than "I'm out here. You're out here. I'm checking your boat." That is guilty until proven innocent.

mm

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At first the info given didn't state anything about ice shacks. I just assumed. My bad sorry about that.

Thanks Dan and others for the correction. I saw it on the 10 o clock news with more detail and wanted to update the thread, but you gus beat me to it.

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if you are in the act of fishing, that gives probably cause, in my opinion, to look in the live well/cooler for fish. I've never been "searched" by a CO in anyway beyond a professional manner. If you are carring a gun and wearing blaze orange are you not hunting? if you're sitting in a duck boat with decoys around you are you not hunting? Opening weekend of the early goose season, got checked by the CO. He was carrying a pen with him out in the field, not to write tickets but to allow people to sign the face of their stamp. It's their job to protect our natural resources. Let's let them do it.
my .02

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This is as much as a preventative measure as anything. The selfish fisherman out there will now think twice, because before they could just blow off the C.O.'s request for search and take their illegal catch home. Now they cannot. Your civil liberty is to assist C.O.'s in protecting our resources, not worrying about a minor inconveince you "the innocent" might have to incur.

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No. It is your civic duty to assist CO's in doing their jobs. Random searches of people who are fishing without seeing or being tipped off to possible violations is a violation of 4th amendment rights and cival liberties.

misterinnocent

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So CO's can search your boat, but not your icehouse, whats the status of road blocks and searches of vehicles by CO's?

As far as searching boats, I think that CO's should be allowed to do it, lets protect the resource. Theres that old saying 'locks help keep honest people honest'. The same way that the possibility of having your boat searched keeps people from taking overlimits when the fish are really biting. Hopefully some of the heavy abusers will get caught too. And it gives the CO's the capabiltiy of covering more ground and checking more people than if they had to sit and spy on one boat for 1/2 a day just to get probable cause. Lets face it, they each have too much territory to cover. I've hunted and fished for 30 years and I've been checked a grand total of twice by CO's, once while fishing and once while pheasant hunting.

Lets protect the resource.

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You have no expectation of privacy in a vehicle, boat, in the field, etc. Road blocks are used to check people effectively, and with vehicles there is no expectation of privacy.

In a fishhouse there IS an expectation of privacy. How many of you have slept in a fishhouse, lived in a fishhouse for a weekend, changed your clothes, or "been" with your significant other? I know I want privacy!! I've also been a victim of a couple CO's who barged in and searched everything. It ticked me off!

I fully agree with the fishhouse ruling, but I would never reject a CO to come in anyways. The boat search ruling I could never understand. You have no expectation of privacy in a fishing boat, however, a yacht with an enclosed structure can be an exception.

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Flashman .. you couldnt have worded it better. If you are, or were in the act of fishing or hunting that is enough.

There are entirely too many fisherman and hunters that will take advantage of a *good day in the field*. If it takes me dealing with random search's of my boat to help bust some of these people poaching(exactly what it is keeping more than a limit, or game out of season), more power to them.

I have witnessed many of times on the duck sloughs where people obviously shot more birds than allowed. Whats to stop these individuals from putting a limit in plain veiw and hiding the rest of the birds? By what others are stating here with amendment rights ... is basicly saying who cares as long as your rights arent violated and your boat is searched without expressed permission.

Trying to contact a game warden in any place other than a metro area is a joke. I have been trying to contact one in St. Louis county for 3 weeks now with no return call, this even included a trip to the local DNR building. Lets face it, if they cant catch offenders in the field they are never going to get caught. It really bothers me when I'm out bowhunting and when I return to the same field the following morning(from night before) and there are tire tracks circling the field.. so if these individuals did poach a deer, or several deer, they should get away with it if they were not seen doing it, and have it in their vehicle out of view?

I dont think so. There are too many laws and some need to be changed. I would be fine with road blocks to boot... I ran into a couple in Canada that held me back all of about 10 minutes each.. I guess I have 10 minutes to spare if it will help protect our resources.

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A question for those of you opposed to the new ruling. How do you suggest a CO enforce the game laws? I just don't see how the CO's can do their job effectively if the bad guys can just refuse a search.

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I don't agree.

To me, it's the CO's assumption that I've done something wrong. It's no different than racial profiling. Next time around the ACLU will be challenging and I'll bet the outcome will be the opposite.

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I'm always amazed to hear people say things like, "I've got nothing to hide, what's the big deal?" Or "It's what we need to do to protect our resources...if you're worried about it, then you must be breaking the law."

How easily you give up your rights....and, along with it, the rights of everyone else. Do me a favor...think about what you are saying. Where else would you like that logic applied? Drug trafficking? Tax evasion? Watering bans?

Flashman, you state that participating in the act of fishing gives probable cause. Huh...okay...that logic would then also apply to driving down a highway. You are driving down a highway and that act, in and of itself, gives probable cause to stop you without reason...period.

It's called legal precedence, folks. That's why this ruling is bad news.

The funny (weird) thing about this ruling is that it basically uses the existence of old game laws to define "reasonable expectation". So, because they passed a law that said it was okay to search without probable cause, that then creates a reasonable expectation that a search will occur, therefore the law is constitutional. So, let me see if I got this straight.....the law is constitutional because the law exists?!?

Well, now that's sound logic, isn't it?

So, this guy who started this case obviously had an open bowed fishing boat and that fact was peculiarly germain to the court's ruling. I predict one of two things will happen:

1. The ice house ruling will be challenged and overturned based on precedence established in this case. Next, it will be legal for a law enforcement officer, without warrant or probable cause, to enter your 5th wheel while parked in a State Park campground. Same as a fish house parked on state waters.

OR

2. Someone who is fishing in a cuddy/cabin boat will challenge a search because a cuddy/cabin boat provides more of an expectation of privacy (it's like an ice house in that regard). Then we'll be right back where we started, won't we?

Think outside the box on this one, folks. I want game law breakers to pay the price just as much as any of you, if not more, but I am unwilling to institute martial law in order to accomplish that.

[This message has been edited by huskminn (edited 09-26-2003).]

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Very sad to see another important right being trampled on. I sure hated when a CO was digging around my stuff! I don't think it is fair to harass the public with unwanted searches with no reason.

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In my home that is one thing, It is my property and not about to wonder about to be used for a recreational purpose.

On public lands and waters I see no sovereign property rights other then ownership of a specific recreational vehicle or mobile structure.

Be it an ice house or a boat your on public lands in a recreational vehicle subject to user specific laws. Laws that are specific to an activity that is licensed to the operator and or participant of the activity by the state or federal government.

Courteous behavior is a big part of any CO's job, they will not burst into anything without a reason.

The only feasible and effective way to enforce the laws on the books is to allow unfettered entry.

If not, then we are asking them to basically stay on shore and wait patiently for violators to turn themselves in to them. What sounds more reasonable and effective to you?

------------------
Backwater Guiding
"ED on the RED"
[email protected]
701-281-2300

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