Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Rewards Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement in Colorado

News for Immediate Release
Oct. 31, 2019
Contact: Katie McKalip, 406-240-9262, 
mckalip@backcountryhunters.org

The Colorado Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers recently issued two rewards to hunters who reported illegal OHV use on Colorado’s public lands. In both instances, enforcement officers from the U.S. Forest Service were able to issue citations to the offending parties based on information provided by citizens.

In the first instance, Mike Book and his son arrived in early September at Colorado GMU 68 and parked at a Forest Service gate before setting up camp. They then witnessed a hunter drive a four-wheeler past the closed and locked gate in clear violation of posted signs indicating that the road was closed to motorized travel. Book and his son observed a three-point mule deer buck strapped to the ATV. They approached the hunter, a Utah resident, to warn him of the closed road posting, but he claimed ignorance. Book reported the violation to USFS Law Enforcement Officer Mike Fuller, who investigated the violation and determined that the hunter was traveling through GMU 68 into GMU 67, where he had a valid archery tag. In addition to paying a fine, the hunter was assessed a 10-point penalty toward his hunting and fishing privileges in Colorado.

In the second instance, a BHA member who asked not to be named reported illegal OHV use in the White River National Forest in Colorado in September. Details on this case can be found here.

Officer Fuller commented on off road violations and the role of the public in protecting big game habitat:

“At all times of year, it’s illegal to travel off a designated route on federal public lands,” said Fuller. “If an operator travels off a designated route while in the act of hunting or fishing, there is a large fine and a 10-point penalty assessment toward the individual’s hunting and fishing privileges. I can’t express how much it means when the public polices their public lands and has the courage to come forward and advise me. If I can get good photos, locations (GPS) and statements, I’ll push forward with an investigation. If someone feels strongly enough to come forward, I’m going to give my all to satisfy that person and the public, so they know that we take this very seriously.

“It’s common knowledge that big game do not like vehicles,” Fuller continued. “Big game will avoid areas with vehicle travel. I just ask folks to use vehicles wisely and obey rules and regulations in place. This will make everyone happy.” 

Since 2011, BHA has offered a $500 reward to individuals who report illegal OHV activity on public lands that results in a conviction. Colorado has seen numerous rewards issued through this program, and Colorado chapter members have frequently participated in BHA’s OHV signage programto promote responsible off-road practices.

BHA Colorado chapter Co-Chair Don Holmstrom urged Colorado hunters to step up participation in the program.

“The Colorado Chapter has partnered with the USFS, BLM and CPW across the state to support responsible OHV use through our signage program,” said Holmstrom. “The primary goal of our OHV signage program is to help ensure that roadless areas important to wildlife are respected because of the critical role they play in supporting healthy wildlife populations and quality hunts. These efforts are led by our members and agency partners. If you know of an area that could use chapter support, please don’t hesitate to contact us.”

While responsible OHV users are in the clear majority across the western United States, those who choose to ignore the rules and regulations concerning off-road use jeopardize the outdoor experience and success rate of every hunter and angler in the area. BHA is proud to reward those who stand up for wildlife and our public lands and waters and encourages members of the public to report illegal off-road activity.

CO BHA works hard to ensure local members are engaged with the USFS on planning decisions, work projects and more through efforts such as the Habitat Watch Volunteer Program. Learn more about how you can get involved here, and help support BHA’s OHV Reward Fund by donating here.

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