This is the time of year when a number of trees throughout the area receive a fresh coat of purple paint.

Commonly known as “the Purple Paint Law,” Missouri’s Purple Paint Statute (RSMO 569.145) allows landowners to make it obvious their property is posted as a “no trespassing” area by painting purple vertical stripes on trees and posts. It was enacted in 1993 as an economical, easy and effective way for landowners to keep out trespassers. It’s not a hunting regulation – it’s a state statute that applies to trespassing issues at any time of year. However, as the fall hunting seasons get underway (archery deer and turkey season begins Sept. 15 and other seasons will follow), this is when purple paint markings seem to be most prevalent. Landowners want to make their land boundaries obvious to the increasing number of hunters that will be roaming through the woods now and in the weeks ahead. The statute stipulates that:

-Any landowner or lessee of real property can post the property with purple paint marks.

-Purple paint marks shall be placed on either trees or posts.

-Vertical paint lines shall be a minimum of eight inches long.

-The bottom edge of the paint mark shall be no less than three feet and no more than five feet from the ground.

-Purple paint lines cannot be more than 100 feet apart.

-Posts may be capped or otherwise marked on at least its top two inches.

-The bottom of the cap or mark (on the post) shall not be less than three feet, but more than five feet, six inches high.

-Posts so marked shall be placed not more than 36 feet apart.

-Prior to applying a cap or mark which is visible from both sides of a fence shared by different property owners or lessees, all owners or lessees shall concur in the decision to post their property.

-Both purple paint marks and post caps shall be readily visible to anyone approaching the property.

The law reads, in part: “Property so posted is to be considered posted for all purposes, and any unauthorized entry onto the property is trespass in the first degree. First-degree trespassing is a Class B misdemeanor.”

The Purple Paint Statute has numerous benefits. It allows property owners to clearly identify the boundaries of their land without the expense and problems of erecting and maintaining fences and signs. The painted marks on trees cannot be easily torn down or vandalized and, thus, have the potential to be an effective property marker for several years.

It should be noted that land does not have to be posted for trespassing laws to be enforced. Trespassing on any private property, posted or not, is illegal. However, trespassing on posted property is a more serious offense.

In addition to being definitive markings of property boundaries; purple paint stripes, purple capped posts and “No Trespassing” signs are often indicators of something else – a landowner who’s had negative experiences with people who didn’t have permission to be on the land. One of the first and most critical rules of hunting on private property is make sure you have permission to be on the land. Just because you hunted on someone’s property in previous years, don’t assume your privilege to hunt on that person’s land is still good. Ask to be sure.

More information about hunting in Missouri can be found at your nearest Missouri Department of Conservation office or at https://huntfish.mdc.mo.gov.

Francis Skalicky is the media specialist for the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Southwest Region. For information about conservation issues, call 417-895-6880.