You can find many types of wildlife feeding and moving along the edges of freshly harvested fields near railroad tracks, but officials say it is a recipe for disaster if hunters can’t resist the temptation to stay off the railroad right of way. The Iowa Northern Railway’s Josh Sabin says walking on or near the tracks is illegal and it’s dangerous because it can take a mile or more for a train to stop.
“The right of way is usually anywhere from 25 to 50 feet on either side of the rail itself, so that’s a fair distance, by rule of thumb you should keep yourself 25 or 50 feet from the tracks — whether you’re worried about trespassing or not — keep a safe distance,” Sabin says.
You might think you are far enough away, but he says say their railcars are often carrying unusual freight which hangs over the tracks by several feet. “Windmill components, we serve John Deere so often will move John Deere tractors out of the Waterloo assembly, some those type of dimensional loads, as we call them in the industry, they can be peculiar, they can stick out,” Sabin explains.
And it’s not always the great big loads that pose a danger. He says even small loads can sneak up on you and injure you. Sabin says they don’t want to spoil anyone’s enjoyment of the outdoors but safety is also a factor. Sabin says those who trespass on railroad property could be arrested and fined.
Union Pacific Railroad officials have been busy the past several weeks touching up no trespassing signs along their tracks. They’ve also launched a project called U-P CARES which stands for Crossing Accident Reduction Education and Safety.