Research Illustrates Impacts of Motorized Use on Fish and Wildlife Habitat

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 BNF ORV abuse 07 compressedexperiences 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.

2. Off Road Vehicle Impacts on Hunting and Fishing. An excellent illustrated literature review by the Isaac Walton League highlighting the impacts that off road vehicle use has on our sporting heritage.

3. Environmental Effects of Off-Highway Vehicles on Bureau of Land Management Lands (2007). A synthesis of literature compiled by the Department of Interior.

4. The Effects of Off-Road Vehicles on Ecosystems. A research review by Texas Parks and Wildlife. 

5. Effects of Roads on Elk: Implication for Management in Forested Ecosystems (2005). Research which builds on a large body of research demonstrating the impacts of roads on elk behavior and habitat.

6. Behavioral Responses of North American Elk to Recreational Activity (2008).  A study which found that "activities of elk can be substantially affected by off-road recreation. Mitigating these effects may be appropriate where elk are a management priority. Balancing management of species like elk with off-road recreation will become increasingly important as off-road recreational uses continue to increase on public lands in North America."

7. Reproductive Success of Elk Following Disturbance Following Disturbance by Humans During Calving Season (2011).  A study which shows that calve/cow ratios decease when disturbance increases and therefore "maintaining disturbance-free areas for elk during parturitional periods" is necessary.

8. The Ecological Impact of Roads (2001).  A literature review on which highlights impacts of noise, disturbance, fragmentation and direct casualties caused by roads.

About Tim Brass