All Americans have a right to enjoy our public lands and waters – but no small minority has a right to damage those public treasures or ruin the experience of others enjoying the Great Outdoors. We agree with former Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth when he said that unmanaged motorized recreation is one of the great threats to our National Forests.
Hunters and anglers are acutely aware of how the abuse of off-road vehicles scars the land, pollutes water, spreads weeds, frighten wildlife and destroys solitude. Many of us can tell stories of stalks ruined, peace and quiet shattered and pack strings spooked by illegal off-road vehicles.
All wildlife needs security provided by habitat. Excessive motorized access destroys habitat security, degrading opportunities and the experience of the majority of hunters and anglers. We support reasonable rules – and swift enforcement – that stop motorized abuse of public lands.
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.
Jerry Woodard, Utah:
Jerry explains a time when:
Some hunters on ATVs insisted they would haul his elk out for him if they could get their machines to the site. Even though Jerry declined their offer, the persistent ATV riders spent much of the day trying to access the kill site. In the meantime, Jerry boned out the small bull elk and packed the meat to his 4wd vehicle parked a couple miles away.
The route that the ATV hunters used to access Jerry's downed elk was discovered by other ATV riders. By the time he returned the next year to hunt the same area, Jerry found a well-used two-track ATV trail penetrating the formerly secluded elk cover.
Jerry was in his late 60's when this experience occurred. Jerry still uses traditional archery gear to bowhunt for deer and elk, but hasn't returned to hunt this area after the disappointment of discovering that elk had abandoned the area, too.
The Backcountry Hunters and Anglers recognize the need for responsible use and management of Off-Highway Vehicles (OHV’s). For those of us who have had hunting and fishing experiences impacted by irresponsible OHV use or management, the importance of responsible OHV use speaks for itself. Fortunately for others, there is a large and growing body of research which clearly demonstrates the need for well-planned, well-managed and perhaps most of all, well-mannered OHV use.
The following is a synthesis on research illustrating how irresponsible OHV use impacts the public lands that both sportsmen and game species depend on. Results clearly contrast commonly-held claims that elk are not afraid of vehicles, or that OHV use has little impact on water quality and fish habitat. To ensure a future of habitat security, clean water and quiet recreational opportunities, OHV management must draw upon this large and growing body of research. Note that this is only a partial list of research on the subject.
Literature Reviews of OHV Impacts on Hunting, Fishing and Habitat:
1. ATV Impacts on the Landscape and Wildlife (2011). A white paper by BHA which provides a synthesis of OHV-related articles in three sections focused on the effects of ATV use on: 1) soils, water quality and vegetation 2) wildlife (primarily elk) 3) the habitat and environment that wildlife depend upon.
Have you ever had a hunting or fishing trip ruined by illegal OHV-use? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could identify the violator?
In a Denver Post Opinion piece titled “Who was that masked man on the Four-Wheeler”, Colorado BHA life member Bill Sustrich described having six elk hunts ruined by illegal OHV-use. Bill argued that “from my conversations with other sportsmen, I know I am not alone — and we're getting fed up with it.” Turns out, Bill was right, he is not alone.
In a letter urging Colorado’s Congressional leadership to consider standardizing visible OHV identification, over 40 sportsmen organizations and businesses, and 85 unassociated individuals publicly supported a nationally standardized visible OHV identification. Similar support was garnered by BHA in New Mexico, where approximately 1,000 individuals, many of whom are OHV-users, as well as 18 sportsmen and conservation organizations submitted letters to New Mexico’s decision makers. BHA is also working to develop similar support among sportsmen in Neveda. Sportsmen from across the country are sending a clear message to decision makers – visible OHV identification is a crucial, yet missing, component of responsible OHV management that is negatively impacting the integrity of our sporting heritage.
Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA) is dedicated to protection and restoration of public lands from irresponsible off road vehicle abuse. Our membership and leaders have worked at national, state and local levels to protect big wild country and its wildlife and fish habitats from pervasive and growing ORV-related abuses. BHA has launched an ambitious, four part project aimed at making ORV users accountable.