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March 11, 2011

Trespassing laws in Oklahoma about to get tougher

— The trespassing laws in Oklahoma are about to get tougher, and that’s a good thing according the state’s largest farm organization.

HB 1249 would remove the exemption under current trespass law that allows owners to retrieve animals by entering someone’s property without permission.    HB 1249, authored by Rep. Wade Rousselot, passed the House March 3 with an overwhelming 80 to 11 vote.

“This legislation will strengthen our no trespassing laws,” said Mike Spradling, Oklahoma Farm Bureau president.  “Protecting private property rights, including strong no trespassing laws, have long been a priority of Farm Bureau members.”

The bill will remedy an abuse of the current exemption, which provided criminals the opportunity to enter private property under the guise of retrieving stray animals and instead stealing animals.

“This is cattle rustling, plain and simple,” Spradling said. “Many animal owners have suffered economic losses as a result of the current exemption. “

“Some individuals are concerned about losing their right to retrieve stray animals,” Spradling said.  “This bill does not eliminate that right, but just requires permission from the landowner first, thus reducing criminal opportunity.”

In addition, Spradling said the state economic system is burdened when law enforcement officers cannot identify the thieves from those actually retrieving their own animals.

“HB 1249 will not be a burden, but rather a benefit to the state, landowners and animal owners,” Spradling said.

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