A version of the following story also appearred in the Spokesman-Review on December 5, 2012.
GRANGEVILLE, Idaho — The national conservation group Backcountry Hunters & Anglers recently paid a $500 reward to an Idaho bear hunter who provided the information game wardens needed to cite unethical hunters using All-terrain vehicles in habitat protected from motorized traffic.
The case dates back to spring of 2011, when Ted Koch and two friends were hunting for black bears on the Nez Perce National Forest. They planned to hike into an area where roads had been closed to vehicles, but hike-in hunters were allowed.
As they hiked in, they observed hunters driving around the gate with all-terrain vehicles. They also found bait stations the hunters had left behind.
“We planned to enjoy a quiet evening looking for bears,” Koch said. “Instead, the evening was shattered by noise and exhaust where it did not belong.”
Koch lived in Boise at the time of the hunt, but has since moved to Reno, Nev. He pointed out that he and his hunting partners own dirt bikes or all-terrain vehicles, but stay within the bounds of the law.
“Hunters and wildlife alike need some places entirely apart from the noise and disturbance of motor traffic,” Koch said. “Owning an ATV does not mean you can re-write the rule book.”
Koch noted the license plate numbers of the hunters’ vehicles, took GPS readings, recorded the date and time and wrote detailed descriptions of the riders. He reported the incident to Roy Kinner, a senior conservation officer from Idaho Department of Fish and Game in Grangeville.
In the video below, Oregon Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Co-Chair, Ed Putnam explains how illegal Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) use has impacted the land he hunts. Ed explains the difficulty he's encountered when trying to report these violators, due to the fact that Oregon's OHV identifications are currently too small to be effectively identified. Backcountry Hunters & Anglers supports consistent, visible identifications for all OHV's.
Could there be a benefit to the beetle epidemic sweeping forests of the West? A recent research paper from the Rocky Mountain Research Station suggests that in the wake of the widespread tree death, new structural complexity and species diversity may arise.
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Ensuring a future with free, public hunting and fishing access is central to Backcountry Hunters & Anglers work and mission. So we were glad to hear about a recent effort to improve the level of freedom that sportsmen enjoy, by providing access to “locked-up” public lands – lands that are held by the public, but which the public cannot use.
“The HUNT Act” (The Hunt Unrestricted on our National Treasures Act) is legislation aimed at opening access to “locked-up” public lands, where private landowners have blocked traditional access, or where public lands are completely surrounded by private landholdings, with no way in.
Take for example the Sabinoso Wilderness Area in New Mexico; an entire wilderness area surrounded by private land owners who refuse to allow even foot access across their land; or the Troublesome Creek Wilderness Study Area in Colorado, which has had access blocked by a subdivision of vacation homes; or one of the many parcels of land-locked BLM land that checkerboard much of Western Oregon. For most of us, it’s not difficult to come up with an example of an unfishable ‘public’ trout stream, or a well-used elk hide-out owned by the public, but only accessible to those who own the land around it .
American families have been blessed with millions of acres of accessible public lands on which to hunt, fish and recreate. However, as development pressures and human populations inevitably increase so will the importance of ensuring that access to our public lands is available to the sporting public.
Recent studies validate this point, showing that access is the number one issue facing hunters nationwide. That’s why this bill is so important and that’s why “if any bill deserves to pass Congress, this one does” (Ben Lamb in Outdoor Life).
The HUNT Act would: