By Tim Kowols
Wisconsin’s conservation wardens could have less authority when it comes to private land under a proposed bill in the state Assembly. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the primarily Republican-sponsored bill would require wardens to have reasonable suspicion before they enter private property. Democratic State Senator Dave Hansen calls Assembly Bill 411 a solution looking for a problem.
Opponents to the bill say over 125 years of case law in the state shows the Open Fields Doctrine, which allows a warrantless search of a property owner’s surrounding land, does not violate the United States Constitution’s Fourth Amendment banning unreasonable search and seizure. Those in favor of AB 411 say wardens from the Department of Natural Resources do not have the right to enter private property if they do not have a good reason.