Mountain Pursuit Supports Hunting-Related Penalties for ORV and Other Travel Violations During Hunting Season

Above: The issue isn't use of ATV, UTVs, other ORVs or 4WD Vehicles during hunting season - the issue is the illegal use, either travel on closed roads or trails, or worse, creating new trails as depicted in the photo above, from the Polaris website.

By Rob Shaul

One of the key tenants of Ethical Hunting is conservation not only of game and wildlife populations, but the wildlands they habitat.

To this end, Mountain Pursuit supports hunting-related penalties for ORV (Off Road Vehicle) and other travel violations on public land during hunting season.

Creating new trails and roads and, driving on closed trails and roads during hunting season is a major issue in western States. Oftentimes the public lands (state and federal) are most busy during hunting season, and many hunters access hunting areas via 4WD vehicles, ATVs, UTVs and motorcycles.

The majority of these hunters respect road closures, and would never use these vehicles to create new roads or trails.

But too many don’t respect the law, and as a result, ORV travel violations are a significant issue during hunting season.

From and Ethical Hunting perspective, there are two issues here. First, law violation. Key to respecting Fair Chase is respecting and following applicable laws.

Second, often fall hunting seasons include wet, muddy weather, and illegal road and trail travel, and even worse, creating new roads and trails, is widespread. As a result, existing roads and trails are chewed up, and the landscape is damaged with the new roads.

Beyond ethics, the non-hunting public notices these hunting season travel violations, and this causes negative attitudes toward hunting in general. Already a minority, hunters must not allow bad practices to continue with could threaten the future of the hunting tradition.

Existing federal and state laws have penalties for travel violations. However, issues arise in terms of jurisdiction, and the ability of local and state law enforcement officers - including Game Wardens - to enforce federal travel violations on federal lands.

The state of Idaho has successfully navigated this jurisdiction issue with it's Motorized Hunting Rule. This rule can serve as a model to build upon for other states which have yet to address this issue.

Mountain Pursuit proposes and supports going further, and including the below hunting-related penalties for travel violations during hunting season which will be in addition to existing travel violation penalties.

Specifically:

1st Violation 
Fine up to $1,000
Suspension of Hunting and privileges for the remainder of the year
Loss of Hunting License privileges for up to 3 years

2nd Violation
Fine up to $10,000
Suspension of Hunting and privileges for the remainder of the year
Loss of Hunting License privileges for up to 6 years

3rd Violation
Fine up to $10,000
Forfeiture of the Vehicle
Suspension of Hunting and privileges for the remainder of the year
Mandatory of Hunting License privileges for 5 Years, and potential loss of Hunting License privileges for up to 10 years.

Again, the majority of hunters respect travel rules and restrictions, but enough violate the rules during hunting season where it is a major issue in most western states.

This not only is unethical, but it puts hunting in a bad light with the non-hunting population and could threaten the future of the tradition.

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Email rob@mtnpursuit.org

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