Rep. LaFave fights to end DNR’s warrantless searches of people’s personal property

Beau LaFave

LANSING, Mich. (WJMN) — On Tuesday, Michigan State Rep. Beau LaFave testified before the House Judiciary Committee in support of his plan to clarify Michigan’s state laws to protect the private property rights of Michigan residents.

LaFave, of Iron Mountain, said the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) currently uses the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA) as an excuse to broadly enter people’s private property without a warrant.

“Michiganders deserve to be free from undue government intrusions on their privacy, including warrantless searches by law enforcement,” LaFave said.

“The Fourth Amendment guarantees freedom from unreasonable search and seizures – and that should apply not only to traditional law enforcement agencies, but all government authorities with the power to infringe upon an individual’s life, liberty, or property.”

LaFave’s legislation, House Bill 5540, would require DNR officers follow the same standards as other law enforcement officers and acquire a warrant prior to any such intrusion upon private property.

This would apply unless the owner or lessee of the property authorizes entry or the DNR officer is in hot pursuit of a criminal suspect or the officer reasonably believes evidence of a crime will be destroyed or concealed or an individual will be endangered if they wait to seek a warrant.

“Every hunting season I get complaint after complaint from hunters in the Upper Peninsula about DNR officers entering their land without permission,” LaFave said.

“If the DNR has evidence of an illicit bait pile or poaching, it certainly shouldn’t do them any harm to go get a warrant. If they don’t have enough evidence for a warrant, they have no business infringing on people’s property.”

The plan remains under consideration by the House Judiciary Committee.

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