American Agriculturist Logo

Legislation protecting landowners from hunter liability signed into law.

John Vogel, Editor, American Agriculturist

July 6, 2007

2 Min Read

Pennsylvania landowners who open their properties to hunters are now breathing a collective sigh of relief. Last week, Governor Ed Rendell signed legislation into law that increases landowner liability protection for actions caused by hunters on their properties. It's already in effect.

The law became necessary last year after a state court in eastern Pennsylvania's Lehigh County ruled that the owners of a Lehigh County orchard were partially liable for injuries caused by a hunter one their land. That made a farm liable in a settlement with a woman wounded by a stray bullet fired from a half-mile away by a hunter.

"The fear of landowners about liability was grounded in reality," says state Rep. Harry Redshaw, D-Allegheny, the bill's prime sponsor in the House. "This situation would have amounted to a train wreck for hunters and financial ruin for hunters, landowners and the many businesses that rely on hunting for income."

"Farmers now can be more confident that their livelihood won't be at risk when they open their land to hunters," adds Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Carl Shaffer. "We want good relationships with hunters to continue. They help us control wildlife damage to our crops while we provide them a place to enjoy recreational activities."

The new law amends the Recreational Use of Land and Water Act. It has provided more than four decades of liability protection for actions occurring on a landowner's property as a result of recreational activity - such as hunting, fishing, swimming and hiking - as long as the landowner doesn't charge a fee.

The new law balances the rights of landowners with the rights of potential victims. "While the law provides reasonable liability safeguards for farmers and other landowners, the law doesn't prevent an injured party from recovering damages from the individual who caused the injury," concludes Shaffer.

About the Author(s)

John Vogel

Editor, American Agriculturist

For more than 38 years, John Vogel has been a Farm Progress editor writing for farmers from the Dakota prairies to the Eastern shores. Since 1985, he's been the editor of American Agriculturist – successor of three other Northeast magazines.

Raised on a grain and beef farm, he double-majored in Animal Science and Ag Journalism at Iowa State. His passion for helping farmers and farm management skills led to his family farm's first 209-bushel corn yield average in 1989.

John's personal and professional missions are an integral part of American Agriculturist's mission: To anticipate and explore tomorrow's farming needs and encourage positive change to keep family, profit and pride in farming.

John co-founded Pennsylvania Farm Link, a non-profit dedicated to helping young farmers start farming. It was responsible for creating three innovative state-supported low-interest loan programs and two "Farms for the Future" conferences.

His publications have received countless awards, including the 2000 Folio "Gold Award" for editorial excellence, the 2001 and 2008 National Association of Ag Journalists' Mackiewicz Award, several American Agricultural Editors' "Oscars" plus many ag media awards from the New York State Agricultural Society.

Vogel is a three-time winner of the Northeast Farm Communicators' Farm Communicator of the Year award. He's a National 4-H Foundation Distinguished Alumni and an honorary member of Alpha Zeta, and board member of Christian Farmers Outreach.

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like