PUBLIC LANDS – A public land hunter in Idaho recently collected a $500 reward from Backcountry Hunters & Anglers after reporting illegal use of an off-road vehicle in the Third Fork drainage on the Emmett Ranger District of the Boise National Forest.
As a result of this action, an Ada County resident pleaded guilty to two counts of violating the Motor Vehicle Use map on public lands, which carries a fine of $225 for each count, BHA reports in a media release, pointing out that these areas are closed to protect wildlife from motorized disturbance during spring calving and fall hunting.
BHA offers rewards of up to $500 for public land users who provide a report of illegal OHV use leading to a conviction.
Here's more on the case from BHA:
Daniel Garringer, the hunter who reported the lawbreakers, acknowledged the challenges of enforcement in the area.
“The use of ATVs and off-road vehicles in the area has always been prohibited, but in the recent years, due to the rise in popularity, things have really gotten out of hand,” said Garringer. “I have no issue with riding your ATVs on the main road that is open to traffic to get to your favorite spot to hunt; however, I do have an issue with people abusing and pushing the limits to get to areas that are off limits to motorized vehicles.”
At the time of the incident, Garringer was on his family’s annual elk hunt, a longstanding tradition. He’d hiked into a non-motorized area where he’d seen elk before when two ATVs drove up the trail behind him.
“The rules are the rules, and I hunt this area by walking every year,” Garringer stated. “I have seen the impact of illegal ATVs on the ground. The area is very popular, and the use of illegal ATVs is extremely hard on the animals. This is why I chose to turn the individual in: because I want to be able to take my 6-month-old daughter hunting just like my father took me with him at a young age. If we can get the word out that we are tired of people using ATVs in an illegal fashion, I truly believe the number of people willing to take the chance of not getting caught will drastically decline.”
Since launching the rewards program in 2011, BHA has written checks to numerous sportsmen for their efforts to help ensure motorized vehicles are used legally and responsibly.
“Sportsmen have a long history of policing our own ranks,” said BHA State Policy Director Tim Brass. “As enforcement budgets for public land managers continue to decline, this represents one small way we can help fill the gap.
“When sportsmen head afield,” Brass remarked, “most are looking to get away from the noise and commotion of daily life and to experience the solitude available only in non-motorized areas. When illegal OHV users rob us of those opportunities, we all lose.”
In recent years, great strides have been made by public land managers to curtail illegal use of motorized vehicles through improved travel management planning, signage projects and educational efforts; however, enforcement of illegal OHV use remains a challenge.
Cecilia Seesholtz, forest supervisor of the Boise National Forest, commended the efforts by Garringer – and BHA.
“While it may seem like a small thing to some, I see it as a great effort by a member of our public to do the ‘right thing’ and take ownership of the management of their natural resources,” Seesholtz said. “Thanks to the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers too for recognizing his good stewardship.”
BHA says sportsmen can help maintain intact habitat and quality hunting opportunities by reporting illegal OHV use.