Virginia property owners sue over state’s law that allows hunters to violate private property rights when retrieving hunting dogs
April 12, 2022
Richmond, VA; April 12, 2022: Today, a group of Virginia property owners filed a lawsuit to end Virginia’s law that allows hunters and dogs to trespass on private property unannounced. Virginia is one of only two states that allow hunters to invade private property to retrieve their hunting dogs.
For lead plaintiff Jim Medeiros, the encroachments on his family’s farm, White Oak Meadows, have led to lost livestock and poultry, as well as disruption of the onsite dairy. Not only are the intrusions bad for business, they also threaten his family’s safety and privacy at their home.
The law applies only to deer season for most hunters stalking deer with their dogs and prohibits driving or bringing firearms onto private property. But hunters are not required to give property owners notice, and many of them have used the cover of other game’s hunting seasons to gain unpermitted year-round access to actively hunt on private property, rather than to merely retrieve wandering hounds.
“A fundamental aspect of property rights is the ability to exclude trespassers from your property,” said Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Daniel Woislaw, who represents the Medeiros family and other plaintiffs. “Government cannot grant hunters access that violates property rights and disturbs the use of it without paying just compensation for the value of the property it has taken in this way—even if that access is in the form of retrieving a hunting dog.”
The Supreme Court affirmed the fundamental right to exclude trespassers in PLF’s 2021 win in Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid which held that such access grants are takings under the Fifth Amendment.
The case, Medeiros v. Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, was filed in Henrico County Circuit Court.
Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit legal organization that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 34 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 14 victories out of 16 cases litigated at the U.S. Supreme Court.