Wyoming laws aimed at trespassing activists struck down

October 30, 2018 - 2:59 pm

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A judge has ruled that two Wyoming laws barring people from trespassing to collect environmental data run afoul of the U.S. Constitution.

U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl in Casper ruled Monday that the laws violate free-speech rights.

The laws are an example of so-called "ag-gag" statutes states have enacted to shield the agriculture industry from monitoring by environmentalists and animal-welfare activists.

Wyoming's laws seek to discourage environmentalists from documenting damage to streams and grasslands because of livestock grazing. Violating one of the two similar laws is punishable by up to a year in jail, double the possible jail time for simple trespassing.

Two environmental groups and a photographer's association sued to contest the laws.

The groups praise the ruling. Wyoming officials didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

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