Property owner, hunter concerned about lack of awareness of ‘Purple Paint Law’

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Did you know there is a new way to mark your territory?

Indiana’s “Purple Paint Law” allows property owners to warn others that they are approaching private property by spray painting trees and posts.

The law went into effect last July because traditional “no trespassing” signs are often removed.

State Rep. Stephen Bartels (R-Eckerty) proposed legislation to help Hoosier landowners stop people from trespassing. He said he new regulation is outlined in a hunting guide.

The paint should be sprayed on trees or posts around the area where entry is denied. The bottom of each mark must be between three and five feet from the ground and a tree or post should be marked every 100 yards. 

However, there is concern that many people still aren’t aware of the new legislation.

“As I’ve talked with many hunters and people who go out on ground they don’t seem to be aware that there’s a new signal for them that this is to be a no go zone,” said Beth Conway, who owns 27 acres of land in a rural area near Kendallville.  

Conway stumbled across the “Purple Paint Law” as she was doing some research in preparation for hunting season. She was surprised to learn of the new law and found others were, too.

“As I’ve talked with many hunters and people who go out on ground they don’t seem to be aware that there’s a new signal for them that this is to be a no go zone,” she said.

“The only thing wrong is that it hasn’t been publicized enough,” said Ross Clark, who has been bow hunting for more than 60 years. “Most of my friends have never heard of it.”

Clark said, while most seasoned hunters would not trespass, he thinks the new law could be a good tool to stop those who do.

“Some people who are intent on trespassing might take down the sign and say they never saw it,” he said. “Well they can’t take down the purple paint.”

Bartels said too often landowners catch people on their property but the no trespassing signs were missing, which makes it difficult for police to make an arrest.

“One of the things about the [trespassing] law is that people have to knowingly or intentionally trespass before they can actually be prosecuted,” he said.

Bartels proposed the “Purple Paint Law” because purple is the one color that can be seen by most people.

“There are some people who are completely colorblind and this would be a contrast in black and white,” said Bartels.

He said ignorance of the law cannot be used as a defense for trespassers.

Although, there still may be a bit of a learning curve he said this the best way to keep everyone safe.

Conway agreed.

“It can save a lot of confusion and keep people safe so that nobody has an question about who is allowed to hunt when, what time, and where the property lines are,” she said. 

More than a dozen other states have adopted he same, or similar laws.

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(This story was originally published on October 3, 2018)

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