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Burden To Post | If you own property in Vermont and do not want the general public coming on your property to hunt or trap you bear the burden of posting your boundary, despite the fact that property rights are constitutionally protected.  The governing law is 10 V.S.A. §5201 -- https://legislature.vermont.gov/statutes/section/10/119/05201

13 V.S.A. §3705 is the statute that address unlawful trespass.  It too requires notice against trespass be given, either in person, via an agent or through the use of signage.

Posting Requirements |  Per 10 V.S.A. §5201, notices shall:

  • be erected upon or near the boundaries of land to be affected
  • be erected at each corner
  • be erected not over 400 feet apart along boundaries
  • legible signs must be maintained at all times
  • legible signs must be dated each year
  • owner or person posting the land shall record this posting annuall in the town clerk's office of the town in which the land is located, paying $5.00 for this recording

Vermont Constitution | The Vermont Constitution references property in several places.

CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF VERMONT AS ESTABLISHED JULY 9, 1793, AND AMENDED THROUGH DECEMBER 14, 2010

CHAPTER I. A DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE INHABITANTS OF THE STATE OF VERMONT

Article 1. [All persons born free; their natural rights; slavery prohibited]

That all persons are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent, and unalienable rights, amongst which are the enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety; therefore no person born in this country, or brought from over sea, ought to be holden by law, to serve any person as a servant, slave or apprentice, after arriving to the age of twenty-one years, unless bound by the person's own consent, after arriving to such age, or bound by law for the payment of debts, damages, fines, costs, or the like.

Article 2. [Private property subject to public use; owner to be paid]

That private property ought to be subservient to public uses when necessity requires it, nevertheless, whenever any person's property is taken for the use of the public, the owner ought to receive an equivalent in money. [this is known as eminent domain - more on this in another post]

Article 4. [Remedy at law secured to all]

Every person within this state ought to find a certain remedy, by having recourse to the laws, for all injuries or wrongs which one may receive in person, property or character; every person ought to obtain right and justice, freely, and without being obliged to purchase it; completely and without any denial; promptly and without delay; comformably to the laws.

Article 9. [Citizens' rights and duties in the state; bearing arms; taxation]

That every member of society hath a right to be protected in the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property, and therefore is bound to contribute the member's proportion towards the expence of that protection, and yield personal service, when necessary, or an equivalent thereto, but no part of any person's property can be justly taken, or applied to public uses, without the person's own consent, or that of the Representative Body, nor can any person who is conscientiously scrupulous of bearing arms, be justly compelled thereto, if such person will pay such equivalent; nor are the people bound by any law but such as they have in like manner assented to, for their common good: and previous to any law being made to raise a tax, the purpose for which it is to be raised ought to appear evident to the Legislature to be of more service to community than the money would be if not collected. 

Shift The Burden | There’s a lot that goes into posting your land.  First, you have to know where your boundaries are — which is fundamentally important for all property owners.  The boundaries will need to be well-marked and the person doing the positing will have to know how to identify boundaries.  Some of our boundary is easy to access directly off roads, but other sections cross extremely steep and remote areas where access is via foot only.  You need signs, a staple gun, and staples.  Some people mount the signs to wooden boards for durability (this is more doable along roadways).  Our boundary takes several days to post.  

Many property owners have to incur the expense of hiring someone to post their land for them.

A bundle of 100 posting signs costs approximately $22.  For our nearly 1,300 acre property, accounting for its size and road frontage, nearly 500 signs are required. 

The cost of the signs is the least significant of all, even with most getting ripped down within the course of the year and needing to be replaced. The bigger cost for us, and other large landowners, is in human labor/time posting and maintaining 2 square miles of boundary.  

But even for smaller properties, posting poses challenges, especially if owners are elderly or disabled.  

In light of VT Constitutional protection of property rights —

Why should private property owners have to take action to ensure the public stays off their land?  

Shouldn’t it be the other way around? 

Shouldn’t it be presumed that all private land is not to be trespassed upon or accessed for any activity without permission?

Shouldn’t it be the burden of private property owners who want to invite the public onto their land to post an invitation? 

We think burdening private property owners to invite the public to come onto their lands is far more in line with the entire legal framework.  

We think it would create far less confusion about where hunters and trappers can go, and where they are not invited.

We think it would create far less visual pollution on the landscape caused by the most-often used posting sign - the bright yellow squares that dot VT's fields and hillsides.  

Shouldn’t property owners be free of unexpectedly meeting trespassing hunters, trappers, and their hunting hounds while out on their land — to enjoy private use in whatever ways they desire, free of threat, disruption and damage to themselves or their property?

It's time to shift the posting burden from property owners who do not want the public on their private property to property owners who want to invite the public in.