North Dakota House says keep hunting rights with land

Bismarck, N.D. (AP) — Supporters of property rights in the North
Dakota House defended a proposal to ban permanent sales of the
right to hunt a parcel of land, saying that allowing the practice
would cause management nightmares.

House members on Friday voted 69-21 to approve legislation that
bars landowners from separating the right to hunt their land from
the property itself.

The Legislature first approved the restriction two years ago,
and the proposed law would make it permanent. North Dakota is the
only state in the nation to bar permanent sales of the right to
hunt property, the National Conference of State Legislatures
says.

Rep. Curt Hofstad, R-Devils Lake, said during House debate that
he had a “love-hate relationship” with the restriction.

“Certainly the right of access to hunting would be considered a
marketable commodity,” Hofstad said. “On the other hand … severing
the access from hunting from the surface estate conjures up a host
of problems for generations to come.”

The right to farm or graze cattle on property would inevitably
clash with the right to hunt the same land, Hofstad said. Hunting
rights could also be resold or divided, leaving many people with
some hunting-rights claim to a parcel, he said.

The owner of the land’s surface rights would be responsible for
“control of noxious weeds, drainage issues, government programs,
issues dealing with erodible lands and, of course, taxes,” Hofstad
said. “And yet the owner of the severed (hunting) access would have
a free pass.”

Rep. Rod Froelich, D-Selfridge, said the legislation would
restrict property rights, and purports to solve a problem that
doesn’t exist.

Froelich, who is a rancher, said he had owned land since 1969
that came without hunting rights, and he has “never had a problem.
Now, we’re going to try to fix it.”

“This is a property rights issue. It’s not about selling hunting
rights, it’s about what you can do with them,” Froelich said.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is a very, very slippery slope.”

Rep. Duane DeKrey, R-Pettibone, said he believed the legislation
could make the state vulnerable to lawsuits from landowners who are
denied a way of making money on their property.

“We are obviously taking something of value away from that
landowner, that now he cannot sell to someone,” DeKrey said.

The bill is HB1045.

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