BHA Member Reports Illegal E-bike Hunters

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. Many of us can tell stories of stalks ruined, peace and quiet shattered and pack strings spooked by illegal off-road vehicles. Backcountry Hunters & Anglers member Jeff Barney found himself in one such situation earlier this year while hunting in a non-motorized area of the Salmon-Challis National Forest where he used his hunting ethics to turn in an e-bike user not following the law or the spirit of fair chase.

Late afternoon on Sept. 20 my friend Mark and I were returning to the trailhead after a great day of bow hunting elk in the central Idaho backcountry. This primitive trail was part of a non-motorized management area of the Salmon-Challis Forest managed by the US Forest Service.

Within a few hundred yards of my truck, we looked up on the adjacent hillside to see an E-bike rider traveling overland through the rugged sagebrush terrain. The rider was packing a rifle in archery season, dressed in full camo as he descended toward the trail we walked. He stopped to visit with us opposite the USFS “closed to motorized” sign and within eyesight of his own truck bearing Utah plates. We inquired about the rifle he was packing and he replied that he had just missed a bear (legal with a rifle) up the canyon we had just traveled.

When I asked, the E-bike rider affirmed that the business name on his back window was his. Mark asked what town in Utah the man was from, to which he gladly replied. The hunter also told us that his hunting buddy was similarly hunting by E-bike up a nearby canyon in the non-motorized area and, in addition, the location of their camp.

I made a mental note of the vehicle make and the license plate as we squeezed past and toward my truck parked further down. We did not, however, confront the hunter regarding his illegal motorized methods.

Back at elk camp that evening, we relayed the E-bike incident to our fellow hunters (all BHA members themselves). They were understandably upset at the perpetrator's illegal behavior, and implored me to turn him in at the earliest opportunity!

The following day I was able to reach cell phone coverage, track down the Salmon-Challis Forest law enforcement officer's cell number and report the illegal motorized incident. Armed with the vehicle plate and description, the individual's last name and home town, where they were camped made the officer's job so much easier. That same day USFS Officer Carl Stocker wrote two citations for illegal motorized travel; one to the individual we spoke with and his hunting buddy based solely on the information I provided. Both were compliant and admitted to riding overland using E-bikes, with impunity, to hunt.

To help encourage sportsmen and public land users to continue our longstanding tradition of policing our own ranks, BHA offers up to $500 in rewards for reports or information leading to a conviction of illegal motorized users.  By collecting the vehicle identification number, the location where the offense occurred and any photographs that would be helpful in weeding-out those who threaten our sporting heritage and namesake. Report illegal OHV use to your local game warden and/or land manager and help ensure that we continue to have quality habitat, hunts and access for all.

About Jeff Barney

I'm about chukar hunting, archery elk and catching wild fish in the Idaho backcountry. Everyone should support BHA and public lands!!