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Old 10-21-2012, 15:02   #1
elsolo
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Game wardens' and the fourth ammendment

I just returned from a pheasant hunting trip and the question of the search rights of game wardens was the topic of discussion during the drive back to Fargo.

The family members I was hunting with contend that a game warden can legally search your home, without a warrant or probable cause, to check for poached or illegally pocessed game.

I have a hard time believing that game wardens are not bound by the fourth ammendment.

They gave some example of a local Minnesota man that had his home freezer searched because a neighbor phoned in a tip that he was a poacher. I told them he must have consented to the search, that a game warden can't just demand access to your freezer to take a look for illegal items.

I spent the last hour searching the internet without finding substantial answers either way. I did find reference to "reasonable suspicion" compared to probable cause, implied consent to search by buying a hunting license, but not any hard rules.

So what does the GT brain trust think about this issue, can a game warden search in your home without PC or a warrant, are they somehow above the rules that other LEO's must abide by?
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Old 10-21-2012, 15:07   #2
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Were I to guess the warden probably had a substantial level of cause before he entered the home and searched the freezer. Out of curiosity what were the results of the search?
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Old 10-21-2012, 15:08   #3
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Through the simple expedient of typing 'game warden 4th Amendment' into google, you'll find a giant pile of relevant info.

The one that jumped out at me was a Supreme Court item from March of this year in which they declined to review the California supreme court upholding the right of Game Wardens in California to conduct warrantless vehicle searches. On target enough for you?

http://ivn.us/2012/03/06/supreme-cou...-to-stop-cars/
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Old 10-21-2012, 15:08   #4
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In a word, no.
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Old 10-21-2012, 15:18   #5
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A game warden is bound by the same rules as a cop. He can enter your home with a warrant signed by a judge or with out a warrant when there is exigent circumstances.

1. he can enter your home w/o a warrant if he is persuing you.

2. If he has reasonable suspicion that you are destroying evidence. (He has to have a good reason to be there)

3. He has reason to belive an emergency exists such as screaming or gunfire or house fire.


also there is a legal concept of curtilage where you have a reasonable expectation of privacy such as behind your house. He cannot just wander on your property fishing for something.

In summary he has no more or no less powers that any other cop has. His jurisdiction is usually the whole state.
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Old 10-21-2012, 15:22   #6
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Originally Posted by elsolo View Post
The family members I was hunting with contend that a game warden can legally search your home, without a warrant or probable cause, to check for poached or illegally pocessed game.
This example alone shows how twisted mindsets have become, and how some people are just willing to roll over and die.
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Old 10-21-2012, 15:59   #7
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I was wondering if most game wardens act like those buffoons on the NatGeo program "Wild Justice". Those guys make the Three Stooges look competent.

Fortunatly, I haven't had to deal with any.
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Old 10-21-2012, 16:03   #8
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In LA they can stop my boat without cause to check.

They can come on private land to check.
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Old 10-21-2012, 16:10   #9
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Only time I've ever seen a game warden is the one who camps out at the processor during deer season.
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Old 10-21-2012, 16:10   #10
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In PA they have more power than the State Police and are despised for it. They can search a vehicle or home if they suspect game has been taken illegally or out of season. We have lost close to 250,000 hunters in the field who are tired of seeing no game. We use to put a million Big Game Hunters in the woods the first day of Deer Season. The Game Commission is only paid by revenues from hunting so they are getting poor and fewer year by year.....same for Fish Commission....the most despised by all and less people fishing every year too!
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Old 10-21-2012, 16:22   #11
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.....same for Fish Commission....the most despised by all and less people fishing every year too!
Most despised by all or by those who violate the fish and game laws?
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Old 10-21-2012, 16:35   #12
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Funny Story, we pulled up to the boat ramp one night about 3AM and every light in the world came on.
As we were without a trailer and using a small John Boat we were both waist deep in the water.
Aparently someone was bow hunting (poaching) from a boat on to shore.
I can honestly say I was glad my pants were already wet.
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Old 10-21-2012, 16:59   #13
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Anybody who dares to hunt and take one of th kings animals has to be ready to pay the price.
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Old 10-21-2012, 17:01   #14
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They are bound by the same laws and rules as any other LEO. One thing to in the example of a tip called into a GameWarden, a tip alone is not enough to sustain a warrantless check of a fridge.

As far he/she would know the , tipster could just not like you as a hunter. The LEO would still need some PC like;

blood hair
statement
deer parts or alligator parts in your truck on your yard
eye ball witness that you did a crime by a Law Officer
etc....


Even on state ground, the Warden does NOT have any more right to search you unless he suspect a crime has been committed and has PC.


Outside of the above, I would tell him politely to go pound sand and come back with a warrant
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Old 10-21-2012, 17:48   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elsolo View Post
I just returned from a pheasant hunting trip and the question of the search rights of game wardens was the topic of discussion during the drive back to Fargo.

The family members I was hunting with contend that a game warden can legally search your home, without a warrant or probable cause, to check for poached or illegally pocessed game.

I have a hard time believing that game wardens are not bound by the fourth ammendment.

They gave some example of a local Minnesota man that had his home freezer searched because a neighbor phoned in a tip that he was a poacher. I told them he must have consented to the search, that a game warden can't just demand access to your freezer to take a look for illegal items.

I spent the last hour searching the internet without finding substantial answers either way. I did find reference to "reasonable suspicion" compared to probable cause, implied consent to search by buying a hunting license, but not any hard rules.

So what does the GT brain trust think about this issue, can a game warden search in your home without PC or a warrant, are they somehow above the rules that other LEO's must abide by?
It's BS. I'd call it a "myth" but that would imply that more people than your buddy believe it.

The 4th amendment applies to game wardens the same as any other agent of the government.
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Old 10-21-2012, 17:56   #16
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2. If he has reasonable suspicion that you are destroying evidence. (He has to have a good reason to be there)

Quick destroy the evidence:
The Okie Corral
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Old 10-21-2012, 18:03   #17
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A lot of what people think Game Wardens can do is myth. That's not to say they don't use those myths to their advantage from time to time.
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Old 10-21-2012, 18:27   #18
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http://texasfishingforum.com/forums/...pics/5685333/1

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_warden

Seems that there are some state laws that need to be challenged. Oh, wait, the SCOTUS already declined to do that.

I was always under the impression that their powers above and beyond common LEO authorities and limitations came from that little paper you sign to get your license, but it appears to be another myth.
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Old 10-21-2012, 18:30   #19
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Asking GNG for advice on this matter was your first mistake..


Feel free to contact your local game wardens office, I call our park officers here all of the time, very knowledgable folks.


Outdoor Hub mobile, the outdoor information engine
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Old 10-21-2012, 18:35   #20
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Quote:
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Anybody who dares to hunt and take one of th kings animals has to be ready to pay the price.
Right you are! Robin Hood would never have been able to defeat the Game Warden of Nottingham!
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Old 10-21-2012, 19:06   #21
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Quick destroy the evidence:
The Okie Corral
Lol

That was my first thought, too.
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Old 10-21-2012, 19:11   #22
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So how about when they check the plug on a shotgun? Unless they have heard you fire 4 shots in a row or see you load 3 shells in the tube, isn't that an unreasonable search?
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Old 10-21-2012, 19:39   #23
Bruce M
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In as much the check for the plug in the shotgun takes what, maybe twelve seconds, my guess is that a court would probably feel it is not unreasonable.
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Old 10-21-2012, 19:46   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RonS View Post
http://texasfishingforum.com/forums/...pics/5685333/1

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_warden

Seems that there are some state laws that need to be challenged. Oh, wait, the SCOTUS already declined to do that.

I was always under the impression that their powers above and beyond common LEO authorities and limitations came from that little paper you sign to get your license, but it appears to be another myth.
What a state statute says about their powers makes no difference and they already know that.
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Old 10-21-2012, 19:49   #25
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So how about when they check the plug on a shotgun? Unless they have heard you fire 4 shots in a row or see you load 3 shells in the tube, isn't that an unreasonable search?
Probably not. My wild guess is that it's a regulatory search related to the licensed sctivity you are participating in. They can do that without a warrant or suspicion, but when it starts getting into the stuff about searching homes where game may be kept, it's BS (no matter what a statute says).
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