On the opening day of Colorado 3rd rifle season, a Centennial State resident and his family took a stand for secure wildlife habitat and fair chase and reported two vehicles illegally parked in an area closed to motorized use in the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests. He and his daughter, the proud bearer of a GMU 67 bull tag, were pursuing elk in the Sage Park area when they witnessed two Ford Broncos parked on a sage flat behind clear signs and physical barriers indicating that the area was closed to vehicles.
The hunter directed Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Michael Fuller to the area. Fuller cited the vehicles’ owners for illegal off-road travel. The perpetrators were two local hunters who were aware that the area was closed to off-road use. Later in the day, Fuller became aware of another vehicle illegally accessing the same area and issued another citation. Two of the three violators have since paid their $280-dollar fines.
Officer Fuller commented, “We are individual officers who cover hundreds of thousands, if not millions of acres of wild land. We rely heavily on our cooperating partners and visitors to our national forest system lands to report illegal activity. Because we’re not able to be everywhere at once, they’re our eyes and ears in the backcountry. I’m aware that it takes courage to come forward with a tip, so if a member of the public comes forward with information, I’ll give 110 percent in following up on that lead. I’ve made a ton of cases based on public information.”
Since 2011, BHA has offered a $500 reward to individuals who report illegal OHV activity on public lands that results in a conviction. This incident was no exception, and BHA State Policy and Field Operations Director Tim Brass presented the hunter with the reward. BHA hopes that the family connected on a bull despite the unwelcome disturbance caused by these vehicles in prime elk country.
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.