On September 14th, a BHA member and Denver resident was preparing for the opening day of Colorado’s muzzleloader season by scouting one of his most reliable spots when he witnessed a truck parked past a No Motor Vehicles sign. The next day — the opener — he hiked into his spot in the dark to pursue elk on a limited draw tag. On his return, he saw the same truck parked with an established camp approximately a mile past the road closure. He promptly documented the location of the camp and vehicle and reported the violation to the White River National Forest Office, which dispatched USFS Law Enforcement Officer Phil Strehle to the scene. Strehle issued a citation to the offending party, who had killed a bull elk in the area.
The member thanked BHA for their support of OHV enforcement and commented on the incident:
Thanks for helping educate public land users on the laws/rules that we all need to follow in order for everyone to continue enjoying the land we are so fortunate to be able to access. This location has been an extreme problem with illegal motorized vehicle use. This is a prime example of hunters knowingly acting against fair chase ethics and breaking the law by using a motorized vehicle to setup a camp a mile into a trail where every other hunter has to hike into. I hope everyone who enjoys our public lands, from mushroom hunters and bird watchers to recreational users, will respect the laws and follow them. It is important for anyone who sees people violating, no matter what the offense, to turn them into the authorities. People need to educate themselves on how to go about notifying the appropriate authorities for the area of land they are in when they see, and can document, violators. Also, violators need to understand that their actions will no longer go unreported, as is the case in the majority of violation instances that are witnessed. It is everyone's responsibility to follow the laws and report those who are not, if we want to continue to enjoy our public lands to the fullest.
The hunter was charged with operating a motive vehicle on a closed road while hunting. BHA thanks our member and Officer Strehle for their work in protecting big game habitat and motorized use restrictions in Colorado. Since 2011, BHA has offered a $500 reward to individuals who report illegal OHV activity on public lands that results in a conviction. BHA State Policy and Field Operations Director Tim Brass presented the member with the reward.
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.
In addition to encouraging fellow public lands users to help self-police illegal OHV 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 our Habitat Watch Volunteer Program. Learn more about how you can get involved here, and help support our OHV Reward Fund by donating here.