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US Attorney: Corner Prosecution Didn’t Infringe Hunters’ Rights – WyoFile | Gmx Pharm

Wyoming’s chief attorney general has dismissed a retired federal agent’s complaint against state and county justice officials who allege they violated federal law when they prosecuted four hunters for corner crossing near Elk Mountain Ranch in Carbon County.

The complaint alleged that Carbon County Prosecutor Ashley Mayfield Davis and Carbon County Sheriff Archie Roybal – both under the authority of Wyoming Attorney General Bridget Hill – violated the federal Unlawful Containment Act of 1884 and the 14thth Modification. Those violations occurred, Casper resident James Hasskamp claimed, when Davis accused the Missouri hunters of criminal trespassing for corner crossing in 2020 and 2021 to hunt on public lands.

Corner crossing is the act of walking from one public lot to another at the common corner of two private lots, each arranged in a checkerboard-like ownership pattern. The four hunters have never set foot on the private land at Elk Mountain Ranch, where they have been accused of trespassing. A Carbon County jury found her not guilty after a trial in April.

“[W]We do not view the situation as it currently stands as an illegal “enclosure” of public land.”

Nicholas Vassallo, Acting US Attorney for Wyoming

The 1884 UIA attempts to preserve public access to federal property while the 14thth The amendment ensures due process, equal protection and federal supremacy. Davis’ charges against the hunters violated those state regulations, Hasskamp’s affidavit claimed.

His filing with acting US Attorney for Wyoming Nicholas Vassallo sought a court order to stop acts that prevent corner crossing.

Hasskamp’s complaints included that the operators of Elk Mountain Ranch, owned by North Carolina businessman Fred Eshelman, erected two fence posts at a checkerboard corner, in violation of the UIA. The posts — planted kitty corners on two separate sections of ranch property — were chained together in what Hasskamp says was a design to prevent access to public land.

The hunters, Phillip Yeomans, Bradly Cape, John Slowensky and Zachary Smith, used a fence ladder to negotiate the obstacle and get from one public U.S. Bureau of Land Management property to another without setting foot on the Elk’s private land to put mountain ranch.

But Vassallo did not believe Hasskamp’s argument.

“[W]We do not consider the situation as it currently stands to be an unlawful ‘enclosure’ of public lands…’ Vassallo wrote to Hasskamp on August 30.

“Consequently, it is our view that [the UIA] does not require the filing of a civil complaint by the US Attorney,” he wrote in a one-page, five-sentence letter to Hasskamp.

post and chain

Although Hasskamp’s affidavit alleges violations of the UIA by state and county officials, it names Eshelman, his ranch and his property holding company in the title of the complaint and 44 pages of the document.

County and state officials “acted unlawfully as agents of Fredric Eshelman, EMR Land Co., LLC and Iron Bar Holdings,” wrote Hasskamp, ​​who described himself as a 27-year-old retired Department of Homeland Security agent.

Carbon County Attorney Davis’s order for Sheriff Archie Roybal to cite the hunters violated the UIA, Hasskamp claimed, because the law prohibits threats and intimidation in addition to physical barriers to restrict legal access to public lands to prevent.

In a letter dated September 10, Hasskamp challenged Vassallo’s no-action decision. He was “extremely disappointed” that the lawyer refused to take the matter to court, the letter said.

By evading jurisdiction, “a United States executive agency … continues to jeopardize the public’s use of public lands based on policy, not law, and primarily by executive order,” Hasskamp wrote. He asked the acting attorney to reconsider his decision.

A spokeswoman for Vassallo simply said that he had responded to Hasskamp’s complaint and would not comment further.

Vassallo’s determination “is probably a political decision, with the money and power of the ‘land class’ dictating the public use of land for their own domination and control, as opposed to the public use of land for their own interests and good,” Hasskamp’s letter reads .

The posts and chain at a shared checkerboard corner at Elk Mountain Ranch. (James Hasskamp)

Eshelman’s 22,042-acre property is salted with numerous parcels of public land, many of which are not accessible by public roads or registered easements, but are contiguous to one another at various checkerboard corners – and thereby abut a public road.

Although the hunters were clear of state criminal charges, ranch owner Eshelman has sued them in civil court. He has sought up to $7.75 million in damages for violating airspace over his property at the shared corners.

The resolution of that lawsuit, scheduled to go to trial in US District Court next summer, could affect access to about 8.3 million acres to the west, 2.4 million of which are in Wyoming.

Access restored near Casper

Although Vassallo dismissed Hasskamp’s claims in Carbon County, the attorney resolved a long-standing dispute over public access north of Casper in Hasskamp’s favour. There, Hasskamp claimed, a family that owns a ranch, a weapons manufacturer, and a hunting guide service illegally blocked public access to the BLM property by locking a gate over a public easement.

In his affidavit, Hasskamp named Owens Land & Livestock Company, Teapot Land Co. and Lost Creek Outfitters with blocking access. One or more of the units “unlawfully installed and posted a gate with No Trespassing signs located on a recorded public easement at Twenty Mile Road in Natrona County,” he wrote.

The gate and a lock on it blocked access from a public easement to the BLM property, the affidavit claims, in violation of the UIA. The site is approximately 15 miles north of Casper near the Antelope Hills subdivision.

“This office, with the assistance of the Bureau of Land Management, contacted the landowner and requested that the lock and sign be removed from the gate,” Vassallo wrote to Hasskamp. “The landowner has complied and we consider the matter closed.”

A person associated with Lost Creek Outfitters said they could not comment on the issue but would pass a message to affected landowners. WyoFile left a message at a phone number listed for Owens Land & Livestock but has not received a reply.

Updated: September 17, 2022 — 12:32 am

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