In the Field: Working with Neighbors to Prevent Trespassing

by Anna Mitterling, Wildlife Cooperative Coordinator, MUCC

Dealing with trespassing on Private Property can be a major issue of concern and frustration. Below is an expert from an article written by Anna Mitterling and Brad Nicoll that will be published in the Fall 2016 edition of the Michigan Out-of-Doors Magazine. Enjoy. To read the full article – which covers working with Conservation Officers, preparing to hunt public land, how to seek legal help, and much more – become a member of MUCC today!

Partner with Your Neighbors

If you don’t already know your neighbors, walking over to their home and introducing yourself is a great first step. It is good to build a relationship with them. A little bit of conversation can go a long way in starting to establish trust with them. They may have similar concerns as you about trespassing. You can work together by communicating when you see suspicious activity, and watching each others property if the other leaves town.

Another option is to spread the reach beyond your immediate neighbors and create a neighborhood watch situation where you maybe meet a couple times a year, have a Facebook page, or simply a phone list. That way if issues come up, you can work together to figure out how widespread the situation may be, and work together to collect information and present evidence to the Law Enforcement you are working with.

A creative approach could include having special tags that hang on rearview mirrors, or some sticker you place on vehicles so that when you are driving around and parking off the road, neighbors will recognize the sticker or tag and know that the vehicle should be there. If there is an abandoned vehicle without the markings, the neighborhood could be notified, and additional investigation can take place if needed.

Opening up your property to a few friends and neighbors can help them get to know your property, and provide extra opportunities for people you trust to be on the property looking for signs of trespassing or damage. Having the added traffic, especially if you do not live on the property, will help deter seasoned trespassers who are looking for properties with easy access and low risk of being caught.

Wildlife Cooperatives – Neighborhood Watch?

If you are part of a wildlife cooperative, or you are looking to start one, trespass may be an area of concern for your members and fellow hunters. Another benefit of cooperatives (along with building relationships, partnering with other organizations, managing wildlife at a larger landscape level, collaborating on habitat improvements, etc.) is reducing trespass conflicts. There are creative approaches that cooperatives can utilize that are available with the added resources of many neighbors, versus just a few.

  • Pooling money together to create a pot of money for rewarding individuals who provide helpful information in tracking down a trespasser/poacher.
  • Partnering with your local COs to fund flyovers to look for illegal activity
  • Purchasing a robo deer for your COs to use to trap poachers
  • Creating a phone tree situation where you can call/text each other if an issue arrises
  • Using a tagging system for vehicles that are parked on the side of the road to indicate they should be there
  • Building relationships with landowners in the area

To learn more about wildlife cooperatives, visit or contact Anna Mitterling at

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