Scientists Concerned WY Data Trespassing Law is an “Ag Gag” Law


by Trevor Brown, Wyoming Tribune Eagle

Researchers and environmental activists are concerned a new state law could criminalize the collection of scientific data in parts of the state.

Lawmakers and ranching and farming groups say the law is intended to strengthen personal property rights.

“In a nutshell, if you are not trespassing already, this does not affect you,” said Brett Moline, a lobbyist for the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation, which was one of the groups that pushed for the law. “The big thing is if you need to get on private land, stop and ask permission first.”

But some argue that the broadness of the law — whether if that was on purpose or accidental — creates a more nefarious policy change.

“I think if you read the law on its face, it applies to both private and public lands,” said Justin Pidot, an assistant professor at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law. “And it makes it a crime to go out on public land and collect data on natural resources and the environment. This is a concern because the relationship between citizen scientists and the government is special and deserves constitutional protections.”

Pidot made the same type of arguments, among others, in an online opinion piece he wrote earlier in the week. That piece created a furor online and spurred articles criticizing Wyoming’s new law on several other websites.

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Source: Casper Star Tribune 

Private Property by emachnic, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  emachnic 

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