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#06-252 September 18, 2006

Deer hunting on railroad tracks is illegal, dangerous

Many hunters believe they may freely walk along railroad tracks in pursuit of game. It’s not only illegal to hunt or walk in railroad rights-of-way, but also dangerous.

According to Federal Railroad Administration statistics, 485 pedestrian rail trespass fatalities occurred in 2005 with 11 in South Carolina. There were also 355 highway-rail grade crossing fatalities in 2005 in the United State with nine in South Carolina. Vehicle-train collisions at highway-rail intersections have been cut in half over the past 20 years, while pedestrian rail trespass deaths have fluctuated, but remained relatively constant.
Railroad tracks, trestles, yards and equipment are private property. Walking or playing on them isRR tracks trespassing illegal, and trespassers are subject to arrest and/or fines. It is against the law in all states to trespass on any private property without permission of the owner or without having an official reason, and all states provide for minimal punishments. South Carolina is no exception in this case with fines for destruction of railroad property running up to $1,000 (see South Carolina Code of Laws for more information http://www.scstatehouse.net/code/t58c015.htm) with numerous local trespass laws as well.
Operation Lifesaver is a non-profit, international continuing public education program first established in 1972 to end collisions, deaths and injuries at places where roadways cross train tracks, and on railroad rights-of-way. They remind hunters and others to cross tracks at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings and to observe and obey all warning signs and signals. Find out more about Operation Lifesaver at http://www.oli.org/ or by calling 1-800-537-6224.

Some safety tips to remember:

Check the S.C. Department of Natural Resources Web site at http://www.dnr.sc.gov/hunting/season.html for more information on deer-hunting season.

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