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Q: Anglers and hunters understand that red dots spray painted on trees and posts by landowners represent no trespassing, but are red dots legally recognized? I have asked, and some of my friends didn’t know the significance of a red dot. If they accidentally trespassed on land with red dots but without physical “no-trespassing” signage, could they be charged?
— Rick Lovejoy, Stayner
A: Yes, red dots are a legal indication that trespassing is prohibited. In fact, red markings are sufficient; they do not have to be dots.
Under the Trespass to Property Act, unless acting under a right or authority conferred by law (e.g. a conservation officer acting under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997 entering private property to ensure compliance with that Act) entry onto premises without the express permission of the occupier of the property is prohibited. Entry on the property can be provided by notice or, in certain circumstances, without notice. There are several ways of giving notice; these include orally, in writing, signs, or by way of a marking system.
The Act states that red markings that are of sufficient size that a circle 10 cm in diameter can fit entirely in them, and are placed such that the markings are clearly visible in normal daylight conditions from the approach to each ordinary point of access to the property, are sufficient for the purpose of giving notice that entry on the premises is prohibited. So, as long as the red dots are a minimum 10 cm in diameter, entry is prohibited and a person could be charged if they entered the property.
As mentioned above, entry can even be prohibited where no notice is given. This is the case where a property is a garden, field, or other land that is under cultivation, premises on which trees have been planted but have not yet reached an average height of more than 2 metres, woodlots on land used primarily for agricultural purposes, and land that is enclosed in a manner that indicates the occupier’s intention to keep persons off the premises or to keep animals on the premises.
—David Critchlow (Provincial Enforcement Specialist, MNRF)
Originally published in the June 2019 issue of Ontario OUT of DOORS magazine. Ask a CO is also a regular feature in the print edition.