SALEM, Ore.— So far this hunting season, nine hunters have been cited for driving an ATV with a loaded weapon, a practice which besides being unlawful is extremely dangerous. Ten have been cited for driving ATVs on closed or prohibited roads. Another hunter was cited for driving an ATV in violation of posted restrictions meant to protect wildlife habitat.
A total of 44 hunters have been cited for unlawful ATV use this year. In 2006, Oregon State Police cited 125 people for ATV violations and warned over 1,500.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon State Police, and Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation are reminding hunters to use ATVs responsibly. The most common violations are those mentioned above: driving with a loaded weapon; driving on prohibited areas such as closed roads, public roads/highways or railroad tracks; and driving in violation of posted restrictions meant to protect wildlife habitat.
“ATVs can be a great tool in the outdoors, but it’s important to use them in a way that doesn’t harm fish and wildlife,” says ODFW Hunter Education Coordinator Chris Willard. “Hunters also need to operate their ATVs in a way that is respectful of others’ outdoor experience.”
“The responsible use of ATVs by hunters and non-hunters alike is critical to keeping existing trails open for future recreation,” noted Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Grants Division Manager Wayne Rawlins.
“Oregon State Police are concerned about unlawful ATV use and will cite individuals that violate the law,” added OSP Lieutenant Dave Cleary. Penalties can vary from $90 to $1,250.
Here are some guidelines ATV users should follow:
- Stay on existing trails and roads. Don’t go off trails to scout for or retrieve game, as doing so can harm wildlife habitat or create trails where they shouldn’t be. Carry harvested game by hand to a road or trail and then use your ATV the rest of the way.
- Respect closed roads and trails. ATV operators are advised to obtain maps and check with land managers about road closures to get the most accurate information.
- Be mindful that operating an ATV in wet conditions can damage sensitive fish and wildlife habitat. Avoid operating an ATV in wetlands, streams, and shorelines.
- Limit ATV use in and around campgrounds. Be respectful of other campers’ desire for quiet and minimal disruption.
- Make sure kids driving ATVs are being supervised by an adult and drive carefully, especially on uphill or uneven ground where many rollover accidents occur.
Hunters that use ATVs are reminded of new laws coming into effect Jan. 1, 2008. Anyone under the age of 16 operating an ATV will be required to be supervised by an adult over the age of 18. Also, anyone under the age of 18 will need to wear a helmet and have the chin strap fastened.
Beginning in 2009, all youth under the age of 16 will also be required to have an operator’s permit to use an ATV. The education for the operator’s permit will be administered through the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation and is expected to be online beginning in 2009.
For more information on how to use ATVs responsibly, visit http://www.oregon.gov/OPRD/ATV/index.shtml or http://www.treadlightly.org/