Monday, May 13, 2024

Wildlife officers’ warrantless searches of private property are ruled unconstitutional

 BY: ANITA WADHWANI, Tennessee Lookout, MAY 13, 2024 - State game wardens cannot enter private property in Tennessee without a warrant, the state’s Court of Appeals ruled last week.

The decision puts in check a unique power wielded for decades by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to secretly patrol and surveil Tennesseans’ privately-owned lands for potential violations of hunting, fishing and wildlife laws.

TWRA officers don’t seek permission from a judge before entering private property, need no supervisor approval, keep no records of their searches and don’t inform property owners — sometimes donning camouflage or installing cameras to secretly monitor activities based on the suspicions of an individual officer.

The blistering and unanimous opinion by a three-judge panel compared TWRA’s tactics to British customs officials who were granted unlimited “writs” by the king of England to conduct arbitrary searches in the years leading to the Revolutionary War (read more)

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