BHA Statement on Mountain Bikes, Wildlife and Wilderness

Mountain biking is an increasingly popular form of quiet and healthy recreation that has a place on public lands. Many members of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers use mountain bikes for exercise, enjoyment and hunting. When well planned and managed, mountain bike use can occur in a way that minimizes conflicts with other public lands users and maintains quality wildlife habitat.

Mountain Bikes in Wilderness:

Throughout America, wilderness provides sportsmen with places to escape the crowds and chaos that dominate present-day society and experience the same sense of solitude, freedom and challenge that generations of sportsmen have sought out before us. Wilderness designations ensure that this opportunity continues to be earned through hard work rather than modern technologies. Wilderness designations also safeguard against the fragmentation of habitat in the face of increasing public pressure for new mechanized trail development.

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers believes wilderness designations work well as currently stipulated in the Wilderness Act. We are committed to defending traditional use within wilderness areas. We therefore oppose efforts to rewrite the act to allow mountain bike and mechanized use in wilderness areas.

Mountain Bikes and Travel Management Planning:

As the demand for mountain biking opportunities continues to grow so has the need for well-planned and controlled mountain bike management, which balances mountain bike use with fish and wildlife habitat conservation and other management objectives. Research shows that increased mountain bike and recreational disturbance can have negative direct behavioral impacts to big game species.

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers supports locally driven land management planning that minimizes the impacts of mountain biking and other growing recreational demands by doing the following:

  • incorporating input and evaluations from fish, wildlife and natural resource professionals;
  • considering the best available science;
  • implementing seasonal wildlife-related closures as needed;
  • designing trails to minimize habitat fragmentation;
  • designing trails according to design best practices.


Audrey R. Taylor and Richard L. Knight 2003. WILDLIFE RESPONSES TO RECREATION AND ASSOCIATED VISITOR PERCEPTIONS. Ecological Applications 13:951–963.[951:WRTRAA]2.0.CO;2
Liddle, Michael. Recreation ecology: the ecological impact of outdoor recreation and ecotourism. Chapman & Hall Ltd, 1997.

Naylor, Leslie M., Michael J. Wisdom, and Robert G. Anthony. "Behavioral responses of North American elk to recreational activity." The Journal of Wildlife Management 73.3 (2009): 328-338.

Wisdom, Michael J., et al. "Effects of off-road recreation on mule deer and elk." (2004).


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