Frequently Asked Quesions
I want to post my land. How do I go about it?
There are several approaches which landowners can take to control public use of their land. Certain uses may be prohibited by posting specific signs to that effect (e.g., "private property, no motor vehicles, camping etc. allowed"). Or certain uses of posted land can be allowed by posting signs saying "private property, hunting, camping, etc. by permission only." Or the landowner can prohibit all use without express permission by posting signs prohibiting a specific activity or by positing signs saying simply "Private Property" or "No Trespassing". Signs prohibiting a specific activity are enforceable, including "Permission Only" signs. It is strongly urged that landowners put their name and address on signs so that people will know who to contact for permission.
In order for land to be considered legally posted, do signs have to be a certain size, or distance apart?
Landowners may use one or a combination of the following posting options:
Signs - Can be placed no further than 100 feet apart.
Paint Marks - One vertical purple stripe at least one inch in width and at least 8 inches in length placed on trees, posts or stones between three and five feet off the ground means “Access By Permission Only”. These stripes should be no more than 100 feet apart and the paint markings must be maintained so as to be conspicuous at all times.
Posting may also be done in "a manner reasonably likely to come to the attention of the intruder".
Signs or paint marks or both, must be displayed at all vehicular access points off from a public way.
Signs or prints marks are required only on the portion of the property where access is prohibited or limited. Signs prohibiting motor vehicle access should be placed at all points where the landowner does not want motor vehicles operated.
A landowner can verbally put people on notice that they may not come onto his or her property. If anyone disregards either posted or verbal notification, the landowner may have them charged with criminal trespass (Title17-A, MRSA 402).
Signs should not be placed anywhere or on anything not owned by the person doing the posting; if the signs are located on trees, they should be held in place by staples or aluminum nails which wouldn't damage a chipper or saw blade.
Am I allowed to hunt on my own land if it is posted to prohibit hunting, and can I allow others to hunt on my posted property?
Yes, you can hunt on your property and you can allow people to go on your property for any purpose, even if it is posted. It is, after all, your property.
If I post my land and the public continues to trespass, what should I do?
A landowner who posts land should be prepared to assist law enforcement agencies by being able to identify violators, and must be willing to testify in court if necessary. Before calling a law enforcement agency to report a trespass violation, the landowner should make an effort to obtain as much information as possible about the violators - descriptions of the subjects involved, method of transportation, vehicle registration numbers, etc.
Who do I contact to prosecute violators?
The Maine Legislature has enacted many trespass laws over the years and just as there are many different statutes dealing with trespass, there are also several different law enforcement agencies which deal with specific trespass laws.
The Maine State Police, County Sheriff Departments and local police departments have the authority to enforce all trespass laws. Game Wardens, Marine Patrol Officers and Forest Rangers also enforce trespass laws in most situations.
Game Wardens are responsible for enforcing trespass as it pertains to the Fish & Wildlife statutes (Title 12) specifically protecting the rights of landowners. These statutes include the following:
Airmobile, ATV, and snowmobile operators must stop and identify themselves upon the request of the landowner.
Hunting and fishing license holders must exhibit their license upon the request of the landowner whose land they are upon.
Trappers must obtain written consent of the owner or occupant on land in organized towns or agricultural land with an occupied dwelling in unorganized towns, and of the owner or occupant of land where a trap is placed within 200 yards of an occupied dwelling.
Except for beaver traps, landowners may remove traps set without obtaining consent.
Written permission must be obtained before placing bear bait within 500 of an occupied dwelling.
Permission is required before operating an ATV on crop land or pasture land.
Persons, while hunting, cannot abuse another person's property, with abuse being defined as:
a) Tearing down or destroying a fence, wall or signs,
b) Leaving open gates or bars, c) Trampling or destroying any crop, or d) Verbal or written permission is required for all portable and permanent tree stands or tree ladders on lands located in organized towns. All stands must be labeled with name and address and no ceramic or metallic object may be inserted into the tree. On lands that fall under the jurisdiction of L.U.R.C., portable tree stands or ladders are exempt from the landowner permission and labeling requirements.
The prohibitions in a, b, and c of above also apply to trapping and fishing.
A person cannot discharge a firearm within 100 yards of a residential dwelling without the permission of the owner or, in the owners absence, of an adult occupant of that dwelling.
Can I be held liable if someone I have allowed on my land for recreational purposes is accidentally injured?
No. Title 14, M.R.S.A. Section 159-A specifically addresses the question of landowner liability by stating that a landowner has no duty to keep premises safe or give warning to others using his/her land with or without permission. An exception would be if the subjects were injured by a willful or malicious act on the part of the landowner or if a fee were charged. Fees charged to help maintain roads, gates, etc. are permissible.