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5 Common Camping Crimes

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

Summer often means a return to nature. Leaving our 9-to-5 routine behind, even for a few days, can be healthy and invigorating, but it's worth remembering that an escape from the city doesn't necessarily mean escaping criminal laws and the consequences for breaking them.

So as you're packing up your tents and trail shoes, here are five of the most common camping crimes and how to avoid spoiling your summer vacation:

1. Vandalize a National Park, Go to Jail

You may consider it art, but that distinction will fall on deaf ears when it comes to park rangers and staff. Defacing or damaging national park property is a federal crime, and many state parks have similar prohibitions. So think twice before tagging that big rock or carving "Brooks Wuz Here" into a tree.

2. Reminder: Pot Is Illegal on Beaches, Military Bases, and Other Federal Land

You say your state legalized it? I remind you that marijuana remains a Schedule 1 narcotic according to federal authorities, so you can't spark up in a national park.

3. Bride Asks to Withdraw Plea in Cliff-Push Murder

The criminal code does not stop at the park entrance, and though it may feel like you're all alone in the wilderness, chances are someone will find out what you did this summer. So shoving your newlywed husband off a cliff in Glacier National Park is going to get you into trouble.

4. Maine Legislature Proposes State Policy for Guns in Parks

Yes, in 2010 a law was passed allowing people to carry loaded firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges. But it includes the caveat that gun owners must comply with state and local laws. And some states, like Maine, decided to be more restrictive than the federal government. Make sure you're familiar with federal, state, and local gun control laws before heading to the park.

5. Eating Protected Rattlesnake for Dinner Is Criminal

If you're planning on hunting or fishing for your meals while camping, you might want to make sure what's on the menu isn't also on a protected or endangered species list.

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