Q: I discovered a government insect trap hanging in my lemon tree. I understand the importance of preventing this citrus disease, and it does not bother me at all that they hung this trap in my tree.
Yet I have questions regarding this procedure. First, does the government have the right to enter my property without my permission? Second, what if this person falls off the ladder or steps in a gopher hole and injures themselves? Would I be liable?
-- Michael Joseph Fanucchi
A: The government does have the right to place insect traps in people's front yards as long as it tells you that if you don't want the trap there, it will remove it, said Steve Lyle, spokesman for the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
What the agency does, he said, is place the trap and then leave a door hanger explaining how the property owner can request that the trap be removed. Lyle said the agency does need permission to place traps in people's back yards.
The Kern County Department of Agriculture and Measurement Standards, which has about 4,000 traps around the county, has a similar process. It leaves a door hangar notifying the property owner of an intent to place a trap and if it receives no objection, places the trap, said county Agricultural Commissioner Ruben Arroyo.
By the way, it wasn't immediately clear who placed the trap in Fanucchi's yard.
Both Lyle and Arroyo said they rarely hear objections to the placement of a trap. And they said the property owner would not be held liable for such a mishap. They said their employees use long poles to place traps, not climb high up into trees.
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