Is a 'No Tresspassing' sign good enough?...... : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Hi, my question is this: will the simple fact of posting a "no tresspassing" sign or "private property", etc..sign protect us if we should ever run into a situation of someone getting bit by our dog while walking on an old logging road, some of which is on our property {we have 10 acres}? Did that make any sense?! We live in a pretty rural area, this logging road starts out at the dirt road, on our nextdoor neighbors' property. however, about 300' of it,and I'm sure I'm WAY off on that figure, cuts through our land. People walk it occasionally, it's the snowmobile trail in winter, there are 4-wheelers going up and down it in the summer, you get the picture. How do we protect ourselves?? Is there really a way? I haven't found a sign that says "hey buddy, you're taking your chances coming onto our land- we've got a big German Shepard that doesn't like strangers, and just to let ya know it's at your OWN RISK if you cross through here" !!! I don't even know where to begin to look {state laws? local laws?} . Is it as simple as starting at the town clerks office? Is this anything that our homeowners ins. would take care off ~ before they dropped us for having such a dangerous dog?! We've never had problems before, but it's bound to happen. Any ideas?? Thanks....

-- Mike & Nancy (, April 18, 2002


I'm confused. Is this logging road a public snowmobile/walking trail (as in there's an easement or other legal document saying this so it can't be fenced off)? If it is, you would be best off keeping your dog confined somewhere.

You mention it starts at the neighbor's property. Do they have an easement (you get my drift, I'm sure)? If people cannot access the trail except through their property, and it actually is private property, you might want to mention that to your neighbor, who may get the hint and put a fence up where it meets the road so that you don't sue him when someone gets bitten because they wandered where they shouldn't have.

And of course, put a sign up where your property begins, if the road turns out to be private property.

It is not uncommon for park trails to run through private property, but there are all sorts of signs, and usually there is fencing along both sides to keep people off the rest of the property.

-- GT (, April 18, 2002.

If you own the property, can't you block access to the logging trail?? Put up a fence or gate across it with big signs saying, 'No Trespassing', 'Private Property', 'Beware Of Dog', 'Violaters Will Be Prosecuted' or something like that. I hate when people assume that just because there is a trail, you welcome hikers on it. You could also be held responsible if someone got hurt while walking on your property. Not sure who you should call. Try your county clerk & they could probably tell you who to get in touch with. Also, if you put up signs, take some pictures so you have proof that you had signs up. I just love how they disappear. :-(

-- Wendy (, April 18, 2002.

sorry I can't offer intelligent advice on legal specifics - but...

my recent experiences tell me that most people don't grasp the meaning of "No Trespassing" these days. I finally erected a gate at the property entrance when I tired of asking people who drive past very clearly posted "No Trespassing/Keep Out" signage "can you read?"

-- B. Lackie - Keep Out Zone (, April 18, 2002.

several years ago , my aunt bought some property in northern wisconsin along the wisconsin river, near eagle river... well, although there was no written easement, there had been a snowmobile /4 wheeler trail cutting through the property since jesus was ababy, of course, having just bought the land ,

she put up fences, and blocked acess, she got several none too kind comments, from locals, and the snowmobile club ,and local business leaders accosting her in town ... etc... nearing harrasment , actually

finally the whole thing went to court, she lost, not because she wasnt in the right, but because of the age of the trail... it had been there so long , it became a fixture of the property, similar to say , a legal access road, or utility easement.... needless to say, she sold the property later

-- Beth Van Stiphout (, April 18, 2002.

As to the dog, even if people are tresspassing, depending upon how the local courts see it, and the age of the person bitten (if it's a 5- year-old, you are SOL whatever they did), you would probably still have to pay at least doctor bills, but maybe not pain and suffering. The other thing is that say someone is on "your" part of the road, your dog comes after them, and they run back onto your neighbor's part of the road and gets bitten there by your your dog has tresspassed onto someone else's property, which could make the situation even worse.

Look at what your own deed says, first--it may even have a little map that identifies what that little strip of road is. Like I said, I've been on public trails on private property, and it is pretty obvious what they are, right down to gates that you the hiker are expected to always close behind you "no dogs allowed" signs, etc. If it is a logging trail, the logging company may own it, and you might want to mention that you'd like them to fence your property for you due to these people coming through all the time--they're going to hopefully be bright enough to know that you will come after them should anything bad happen.

-- GT (, April 18, 2002.

If it isn't yet a public right-of-way, and you don't assert your rights to it, then you risk having it legally become a public right- of-way.

Did I understand you to say that just a 300' loop of it comes onto your property, and them returns onto the neighbour's property; or does it cut across your property and go on to somewhere else?

-- Don Armstrong (, April 18, 2002.

Talked this one over with my attorney. We have three large dogs, two are part chow, one full blood German Shepard. His advise if we don't want to put these down when they are gone do not get aggressive breeds, no German Shepards, Chow, Doberman, Pit bull. He suggest something like a labador retirver. The current wave of dog attacks and the trials have made it a serious libility to own certain breeds. If your dog is loose and bites someone even on your property you are going to be out money and serious money. If you don't have to pay them in court, and you probably will, you will have to pay your attorney to defend you. We will be replacing ours as they die off with gentler breeds. Ours never leave the property but we know we have a problem just hanging there.a

-- David in North Al. (, April 18, 2002.

This is a great website for reading fed, state, local laws.

I'd imagine you need to consider easements and right-of-ways with that logging road. If not, I'd close it off.

I like to start out with the standard No-Trespassing sign and then follow up with handwritten, "If you can read this you are in my sights- Leave Now." ; )

-- Dave (, April 18, 2002.

Beth, too bad your aunt didn't live where the trail would have had to have been disclosed by the seller of the property as a "defect" or "nuisance", she could have rescinded the sale or negotiated a 'way lower price for it. How awful people can be--they don't respect private property anymore. And isn't it odd that businesses can fence off, but not private citizens....

Another option is to see if you and the neighbor can deed the land to the county (so you aren't paying taxes on it) and get an easement so that you can cross back and forth to both sides of your property. Never hurts to ask.

-- GT (, April 18, 2002.

Hi Mike & Nancy: I practiced real estate law in Vermont for several year - I've been out of the loop now but do have some thoughts. Most states have specific language that a sign must contain in order for it to be legally effective, i.e., to allow for prosecution of the trespassing individual. Your town clerk ought to know what this is, or your state representative ought to be able to get it to you (both of these are free resources, as opposed to a lawyer, who would probably bill you, unless you're related!). Certainly, your standard "No Trespassing" sign gets the point across, but if you intend to enforce it, or try to, you're better off following your state statuatory scheme. That said, it is notoriously difficult to enforce these things. There's a lovely trail near us, closed to wheeled vehicles, which is being trashed from all the ATVs and motorbikes et cetera. The police turn a blind eye because it's hard to enforce, one person's word against another, they don't have the vehicles to be in the woods enforcing, that sort of thing. It's frustrating. Last thought: your state bar association may have a free help line or something like that. You might give them a call, see if they have any thoughts. Do you know any lawyers you can barter with? I once did a will in exchange for a few truckloads of composted sheep manure! Good luck, Sean

-- Sean (, April 18, 2002.

Contact your locally elected judge or JP and get their opinion on it, as they will be the ones that will decide the case. Since they are elected officals, they should be receptive to your concerns or don't re-elect them.

-- BC (, April 18, 2002.

Well, the trail is somewhat like Beth described about her aunt. It's been there forever. It's not an 'official' logging road. It starts out at one neighbor's property line, through ours, and ends deep down in the woods at yet another neighbors' property. it's probably a mile long total. I will definately take a look at the website that was graciously posted. I don't even WANT to open this subject with our ins. provider, but I would like to know that we'd be amply covered. But I guess we need to start with first things first {the signs}. As far as the neighbor's go, we don't even really know them as they are from out of state. Maybe this would be a worthy search to contact them to protect what {very little!} assets we do have!

-- Mike & Nancy (, April 18, 2002.

It sounds like you might want to get together with all your neighbors (check with your county assessor to see if there aren't more people who border that trail) and see if they would like to petition the county to close the road off. I would also add that a utility right of way is not the same as a trail open to the general public. A utility right of way could probably be fenced off and no one could complain about it.

It might involve one of those little notices in the newspaper (by the way, not always the "big" paper, I've seen a lot of these snuck into the local free weeklies as well--maybe people do this thinking others won't be paying attention) that says if you don't like this, come let the county know about it. You might luck out and have nobody show up.

Have you measured (even informally) usage across this trail? A video camera, perhaps, and/or just write down license plates (that may or may not be legal) to see if it's the same 5 people (possibly friends of the neighbors) all the time, or lots of different people. That may or may not help.

And, if someone uses that road to access your land and robs you, you may well have a case against the county yourself....

-- GT (, April 18, 2002.

Around here, "No Trespassing" seems to mean nothing! We have them posted all over our farm, and yet the neighbors continue to hunt and trap. We have small children, and it drives me CRAZY to know that I cannot allow the youngest (4) to go out and play in the back. She has to stay in the front where I have better access, and there is less worry about a stray bullet! This is Canada, and we are supposed to have such strict laws....ya right! Well, to be honest, the laws are pretty effective, but you always have those who just don't seem to think that the laws apply to them. After all, they're aboriginal, or criminals, or... Not that I'm slamming aboriginals, please don't get that impression...just the ones like those that live next door and really don't care what the law is, or what other's wishes might be pertaining to their own property! I wish you peace and godspeed in finding a solution that works for you...Judy

-- Judy Hill (, April 18, 2002.

Mike, I don't pretend to know the law here, you have had some great advice from people who do, BUT, I do know about "logging roads". So, this road either IS or Isn't one. If it IS used by a logging company you cannot gate it off yourself but in my experience the logging firm can and will(at least here where we are)do it if you complain about the traffic it is getting. We have done this three times and each time the company put in a gate. They were very helpful and nice. I can also tell you that if your property is NOT fenced(seriously fenced) you are liable for any damage your dogs do to persons, even if they are not only trespassing but stealing! Strange but true, liberals at work! It is the pits! LQ

-- Little Quacker (, April 18, 2002.

Its not going to help your problem. Just this week and man was arrested when a child enter a fenced yard and came into an area with a dog tied up. The kid was mauled. The dog owner was cited.

If you got a good lawyer anything is possible.

The big issues is to find out is it your land or not. Did you give up the right away? If so then its not your to post no tresspassing signs. If it is yours then its not a lagging road. Its just semi paved yard! -:)

-- Gary (, April 18, 2002.

WE just bought 54 acres and posted it,with 2 no trespassing and one that reads PRIVATE PROPERTY no hunting,fishing ,trapping or trespassing for any reason in any circumstance.Violators will be prosecuted.They? have torn it down twice.As for the dog thing we were told beware of dog signs are a no,no because you are admitting the dogs are the kind to be wary of.We were told to post dogs on property signs.I don't know if it holds where you are or not??

-- teri (, April 18, 2002.

Here in Okla. many people put up large white post on each side of the road where it becomes private, with or with out signs, and some have gravity gates that swing shut after a car or truck pass through [the gate is made of welded pipe with v-notches in the hinges] it doesn't block access to those who have the right to be there, but slows down use by those who don't. A cattle grate in the road will slow down use also, the deeper the pit under it the better.

-- Thumper/inOKC (, April 18, 2002.

More tips:

1. I'm kinda partial to the "Survivors Will Be Eaten" genre of signs, myself.

2. Learn and strictly follow your locale's regulations on the placement requirements of No Trespassing (etc.) signs. If ordnances state they must be no less than (X) feet apart, between X and Y feet off the ground, each signed by the landowner, etc., make sure you comply!

3. Learn that there are a total of only three letter "s"'s in "Trespass".

-- Audie (, April 18, 2002.

Judy, why not call the law out there when it's happening? After a while I think they'd get tired of being fined.

I had a problem with trappers for a while years ago. One of my dogs got caught in one, then it became a bigger problem. Same couple of guys. Once I started patrolling the stream and taking all their traps, they went away.

The stream started on our land and went through it so as far as I saw it, it fell under my jurisdiction. I know in some areas they have certain laws regarding access to waterways but it wouldn't have changed the way I saw things. One guy even had the nerve to come ask me if I saw his traps. I told him sure did and any more I find I'll keep too.

Took the same approach to hunters. We never had problems with neighbors there but sometimes hunters would park off the road. They couldn't have missed the No Hunting signs. I'd go down there, tell them they needed to leave and not come back or next time I'd have to drag their trucks off the property with the tractor, or worse while they were out in the fields.

I've found that kind of approach is the way to take care of these things. Word gets around after a while with local people who don't show respect for signs.

I rented another place, couple acres for a few years and had some no-good trash for neighbors. I made it clear to them from the start that they could do whatever they wanted but if anything happened on my place, I'd know it was them and whatever they stole or vandalized would not be worth it to them. Never had a problem other than seeing all their trash and junk all over the place all the time. Alot of times that's all it takes is to just speak up and set things straight before it gets out of control.

-- Dave (, April 18, 2002.

I had a funny thought, maybe a sign that says "Danger Rabid Skunks" would work better.

-- Thumper/inOKC (, April 18, 2002.

Well, we have NO TRESPASSING signs up. They might as well be WELCOME signs, for the good they do. We watched one guy get out and cut our fence to drive across our property one night. Then there was another smart fellow who poisoned the dogs because we refused to allow him to use our property as a shortcut to get to his property. Almost lost my religion over that one, if ya know what I mean. Didn't fence-cutting used to be a hanging offense?

-- Paula/TX (, April 18, 2002.

Now days, putting up a "Beware of Dog" sign is asking for a lawsuit. One of my cousins had such a sign on his front gate. The dog was chained in such a way that he could lay on the front porch. The sign and dog were ignored by the "officer" who stopped to ask Directions. That is, until he was bitten. Cousin had to pay dearly. Medical, fine, and put the dog down. In TX, we have to paint purple ever so often at a certain height for no tresspassing. Doesn't do much good except on the hunting clubs where everyone knows that everyone in there is packing weapons. Makes them think about entering there unwanted.

-- Robin Downing (, April 18, 2002.

If your insurance company finds out you have a large german shepherd they will cancel your insurance immediately. I know dozens of folks this has happened to. First thing you need to do is to stop all traffic down that road of any kind unless that person has a legal easement. If the 4 wheeling crowd cuts your wire to go through anyhow, nails in boards burried about an inch will usually take care of the problem :o). When I lived on my families property we had a really nice fishing lake. My summer hobby was running folks off that didn't have permission to fish(they would throw trash in the lake and cut our fences). I kept a 38 under my front seat for just such occasions. Being escorted off the property at gunpoint and then having your license and name taken down discouraged most of them. We finally stopped buying no trespassing signs....let em pay for their own targets to practice shooting on. If this trail of yours is known to all the locals it will take dilligence on your part to notify each and every person that comes down through there that they are tresspassing....get their names if they will give them to you(if they won't carry a polaroid camera). Second time you catch them on your land call the sheriff. This is a huge liability for must enforce the no tresspassing. If your dog bites someone you will be held liable...especially if you aren't actively trying to keep people off your land.

-- Amanda (, April 18, 2002.

We had a couple of folks trespass last Saturday. The no trespassing signs don't seem to matter. I didn't know they were on the property until I heard a rifle shot. I keep a .308 semi-auto for show and tell. They hit the ground when I emptied the magazine, shooting at a target behind the barn of course.

A neighbor across the valley was watching them with a rifle scope. she said the two guys got up and beat feet. Word of mouth is a wonderful thing. Beats calling the sheriff.

-- Darren (, April 18, 2002.

We had a spot on our farm next to the road that teenagers used to park in at night sometimes. Normally I wouldn't really have a problem with that but sometimes they'd hang out drinking beer and leave all their trash around. Half the time I knew who it was and let them be(or joined them). You know when you live out in the quiet country you can usually tell who's coming up the road just by the sound of their vehicle.

Once in a while if it was strangers drinking beer and stuff at night, I'd sneak down there fairly close and let loose a bunch of birdshot into the trees above them and get that kind of reaction Darren. Things get boring on the farm sometimes so it was good entertainment. ; )

-- Dave (, April 19, 2002.

I've heard that a "Caution - mean bull" sign works better than "No Trespassing". Of course, if you actually do have cattle, then you're setting yourself up for the same problems as the "Beware of dog" signs by admitting that you have a dangerous animal on the place.

-- Steve - TX (, April 19, 2002.

The laws of the USA hold you _always_ liable for problems. There is _no_ way to protect yourself. You need insurance that covers what you have. Only way to do it.

As one of my teachers said decades ago, if you have a swimming pool, build a wooden fence, build an electric fence around that, post a sign every 5 feet, if some 5 year old kid some how scales the 2 fences & drowns in your pool, his parents will be owning your pool.

There is some percentage of the population that takes advantage of these laws. I think some Europian countries have much better, more practical liability laws - if you are stupid, it's your own darned fault.


-- paul (, April 19, 2002.

If you are looking for quality "No Trespassing" signs, I would recommend Voss Sign COmpany. These signs are heavy duty, in plastic or aluminum, and are economical. Here's a link: Voss Signs

-- Cabin Fever (, April 19, 2002.

Before we lived here we owned the land and put up No Tresspassing- No Hunting signs. We came out one weekend and found deer guts right under one of the signs, it wasn't even deer season yet. After we moved here we saw a guy walk in right past the sign and start setting traps in the creek, we chased him off. I regularly go out hunter hunting now and fire off a few rounds into the air to let everyone know they better look out coming over here. One of the best deterent signs I've ever seen is one thats says " NO Tresspassing Pistal Shooting range. We still have one neighbor who sneeks in to hunt the creek bottoms, this guy is bad one day I caught him shooting on the run at a deer he wounded through the snow and woods, maybe one day he will fall and shoot himself.

-- John in Mn. (, April 19, 2002.

One of the signs from Voss Sign Company reads like this:


Trespassers will B. percecuted to the full extent of 2 Mungrel dogs which never was over sochible to strangers & 1 dubble brl. shot gun which aint loded with sofa pillers. Dam if I aint gitten tired of this hell raisin on my place.

-- Cabin Fever (, April 19, 2002.

Paul, it also depends upon where you live as to how judges will rule. As to the 5-year-old, you will always lose because the child is a minor, and in this case truly too young to know any better.

In other cases, it depends more upon the judge and jury (if any) hearing the case. I always enjoy watching Judge Joe Brown because he does lay it on the line and tells people that they were to blame for their scrapes. We could use a lot more judges like him in our legal system.

-- GT (, April 19, 2002.

I am on an Animal Control Board...

If ANYONE gets bit by your dog (s), the dogs will be taken in and killed by the county animal control.

Don't let that happen...just like your children...put up a fence in area where they can safely play...where you can keep an eye on them. Away from anyone who casually strolls by...

If necessary put a lock on the gate...

A couple of hundred dollars now for a secure enclosure will be a spit in the bucket should your animals bite anyone...

Just be safe and do it.

-- BC (, April 20, 2002.

We just investigated a camera survellance system. On thirty acres it will run us about $2500 to $3000 grand.

Wireless infrared motion detection....

You must post signs stating that there is video and audio survellance. These might work better than "No Tresspassing Signs" as a deterant...but both must be posted.

We will have a nasty neighbor who is claiming some of the land already and thinks the world revolves around them because they are trust fund babies...

Yes, taxes are only for the little people....

-- BC (, April 20, 2002.

We just investigated a camera survellance system. On thirty acres it will run us about $2500 to $3000 grand.

Wireless infrared motion detection....

You must post signs stating that there is video and audio survellance. These might work better than "No Tresspassing Signs" as a deterant...but both must be posted.

We will have a nasty neighbor who is claiming some of the land already and thinks the world revolves around them because they are trust fund babies...

Yes, taxes are only for us little people.... The Rich do not have to subscribe to either.

-- BC (, April 20, 2002.

So....put up a fence pretty much on that entire side of our property {some 1000'}??!! Ouch! Yes, I know it's better than bieng put in the position unexpectedly by a lawsuit, however, I'm SURE at least some of you can understand how we are choking on the thought~$$$~!! I will be checking on Monday with our local town clerks' office to see just what needs to be done, though, at least as a start. They may say a fence is the only way to go.... :( Insurance-wise, how do you go about making sure you're covered properly in case of something like this happening? What do you say to them?? Oh, I like the suggestion about maybe NOT posting a 'beware of dog' sign , at least not right at the start of our driveway {600' away}. Maybe it's time to move it back closer to the house. It's more for the poor souls like the FedEx or UPS men anyway!! Now what about an invisible fence system through there {for the dog's sake at least}...? If another dog came up onto our property, with these signs in place and whatever else we needed, and the dog got mauled -or worse- by our dog-Is that just Tough luck? We DO have leash laws around here, however loosely enforced they are. I know some of you must've gone through that yourselves! I've had dogs trespass {hey, I spelled it correctly!} on my lawn and don't know whether to sick our dog on them, or just get out the gun. Calling the dog catcher is not an option as he is usually much too far away, and by the time he'd come, the dog would be long gone.

-- Mike & Nancy (, April 20, 2002.

Who said anything about putting up 1000 ft of fence.

Can't you just do an enclosure within your property? Like 30 ft x 30 ft with a shelter etc?

Put your No Tresspassing signs along your 1000ft side...then on the interior of your property put up a proper enclosure.

-- BC (, April 20, 2002.

There's always the "Danger - trapping area - enter at your own risk" or "Unexploded ordinance" - which works wonders if you're even within spitting range of a military base.

-- Soni (, April 22, 2002.

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