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Bill Limiting Idaho Wildlife Department's Control of ATVs Passes

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March 22, 2012

Bill Limiting Idaho Wildlife Department's Control of ATVs Passes

By Chad Love

A controversial bill designed to limit the ability of the Idaho Fish & Game Department to regulate ATV hunting in backcountry areas has narrowly passed the state's senate resource committee. If signed into law, state wildlife officials warn they'll lose one of their key management tools.

From this story on necn.com:

The Senate Resources Committee approved the bill on a 5-4 vote, with two Republicans joining committee Democrats in casting no votes. The slim margin of victory in committee, coupled with objections lodged by the state's top fish and game official, could hamper the bill's chances of clearing the full Senate. The measure, approved in the House earlier this month, takes aim at Fish and Game rules that require ATV-mounted hunters in a third of Idaho's hunting units to avoid off-road vehicle trails. Agency officials claim regulating where hunters using ATVs can travel is a crucial tool for managing big game populations. A similar measure was tabled last year so an interim committee could hammer out a compromise.

But opponents of the agency's authority over trails still have a laundry list of complaints, including whether the agency has the legal authority to regulate travel on public lands. Sen. Jeff Tippets, R-Montpelier, one of the bill's supporters Wednesday, claimed restricting ATV travel essentially discriminates against hunters who can't physically traverse some trails without aid of a vehicle. He also said many find the rule and its enforcement confusing and arbitrary.

"How do you know when someone is traveling with a gun whether they're hunting or not?" asked Tippets, noting that many hunters use ATVs to travel to a hunting campsite but not to hunt from. "It's very subjective." Virgil Moore, director of Fish and Game, said if the agency is barred from regulating ATV hunters, sportsmen could expect the agency to resort to other game management strategies, including shorter or more controlled hunting seasons."Without the motorized hunting rule, I suspect we would see a controlled hunt," Moore said. "We know our hunters prefer to keep the mix we've got of controlled hunts and general hunts."

Thoughts? Reaction? Should the Idaho Fish and Game Department have the authority to manage ATV traffic in backcountry big-game hunting areas, or should we be able to drive an ATV wherever and whenever we want?

Comments (18)

Top Rated
All Comments
from jay wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

They absolutely should be able to regulate ATV use. As for the folks that claim they "need" an ATV to hunt I say ride a horse or mule. Hunting is privilege, not a right. If you physically cannot handle the back country then you need to hunt elsewhere or take up golf.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 2lb.test wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

I agree with you in spirit jay but horse and mule traffic is only marginally better that atv traffic. yes they're quieter and less annoying but as far as trail damage and erosion concerns they can absolutely cause similar problems.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

So now yer out in the woods trying to be quiet hunting, and a bunch of these ATV crazies are out there running around. More hunters will give it up.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Pacific Hunter wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

Use the quads that god gave ya

+6 Good Comment? | | Report
from fairclothcr wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

I think this needs a little clarification. We aren't asking to ride all over the mountain side we are only asking to be able to use the trails that have been designated as open by the USFS and BLM.
With the implementation of Travel Management plans on all USFS & BLM land as mandated by the federal government, cross country travel was eliminated and certain trails were determined to be closed due to numerous reasons, and the Idaho Fish and Game was and did provide comments before these decisions were made. So now we have Travel Management Plans and IDFG has decided to classify an ATV as an aid to hunting (An ATV is no more of an aid to hunting than a horse, bike, walking, etc) so they have enacted a motorized rule which states that hunters (and hunters only) cannot travel on trails unless capable of being traveled by a full size vehicle.
We aren’t asking to be able to hunt from our ATV, just to be able to travel an open ATV trail, park and hike into our favorite location.
As a recreational rider (not hunters) you can travel on these trails regardless of the time of year, so how does one determine if that person is hunting or not. Also, I can as a hunter travel on the trail if I am going to a location to setup a camp, and then hike in from that location.
It is a very confusing rule and the Attorney General has stated that IDFG doesn't have the legal authority to regulate such travel.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tom donohue wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

I am opposed to all atv use in any backcountry setting for any purpose whatsoever. The abuse of these machines will probably do more to hurt hunting than all the animal rights groups combined, and its hunters who will have brought it upon themselves.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Themasterdan wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

Idaho is my home state. I will say this about "hunting" off of ATV's: they are loud, they are obnoxious, and they are usually driven by loud and obnoxious people (I know I will get dinged for this. I have 2 ATV's but only drive them around my family's ranch). If you feel the need to ride into the back country, you should have to follow some special rules. I think the IDFG should mandate that if you have a tag you cannot ride a ATV with a loaded gun on the vehicle. If your gun is loaded than you forfeit your ATV, Gun, $10000, and lose your hunting privileges for one year. Either that or designate that if you ride an ATV into your hunting unit, you cannot actually hunt for 24 hours. Basically you

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from fairclothcr wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

@Themasterdan

I agree with your statement in regards to not being able to ride on an ATV with a loaded gun during the hunting season, this legislation IS NOT meant to allow for hunting off of an ATV. It is to allow those that desire to use opened trails as stated in the Travel Managment Plans of the USFS and the BLM.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report
from elkslayer wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

As an Idaho native and resident I am dissapointed that this bill has passed. The ATV crowd has focused on the wrong issues. The Fish and Game has the authority to regulate tools used for hunting, this includes guns, bows and should include ATV's. Fish and game has stated that the atv rule was implemented because of overharvest in areas of High ATV use for hunting. Just like most areas do not allow rifle hunting during the elk rut because it would result in overharvest. Fish and game also stated that if ATV's are to be allowed then these areas will go from OTC tags to draw only seasons. This will reduce the opportunities in these areas.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from elkslayer wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

The ATV rule was put in place because the increased access the ATV's provide resulted in overharvest. Without ATV's we can continue to have OTC tags and open seasons. Fish and game stated that without the ATV rule many of these units will have to become draw only tags. When that happens not even the lazy ATV hunters will be able to hunt there anymore

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from wolverine78 wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

to Jay, hunting is absolutely a right(similiar to voting its a right of law abiding citizens), thankfully the Idaho legislature is currently in the process of passing a "right to hunt and fish" amendment to the state constitution......

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from fairclothcr wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

@ elkslayer

Fish and Game has always stated that the rule was implemented due to hunter/atv conflict and this was true before there were travel management plans in-place now that state you must only travel on designated ATV trails, you can no longer go cross-country (off trail). Fish and Game has never stated that the ATV rule was because of overharvest. They have stated if the bill does pass then they MAY have to use other tools available, they continue to threaten ALL hunters with not statistical data to back them up. Area 39 is one of the biggest hunting areas in Idaho and they have only implemented the motorized rule during the black powder hunt at the request of the hunters for a more traditional hunt. If ATV's contributed to overharves then why hasn't this area came under the motorized rule. If IDFG ever reduce the hunts it will be due to the wolves killing so many of our Elk, not because of ATVs. There are many statistics online that state ATV hunters have a much lower success rate than others.
This bill is necessary because IDFG according to the Attorney General lacks the authority to implement this rule.
The rule is also very confusing, for example if you are hunting how do you know that if I am on my ATV on the trail during hunting season (which is legal if I am not hunting) how do you know whether I am a hunter or a recreational rider. Also, you can use your ATV to travel on the trails during hunting season to setup a camp, what is the difference if you want to ride your ATV on an open trail and park it off the trail and walk to your favorite hunting spot?
If we allow IDFG to implement rules that they have no legislative authority to do so, what other agencies are we going to allow to do the same?
This rule isn't about allowing those that have ATV's to hunt off of there ATV it is simply to allow those hunters to travel on open ATV trails as so stated open by the federal government (USFS and BLM)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from benjaminwc wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

I'm an Idaho native. We have enough problems with maintaining our wildlife poulations without these damn things tearing up habitat. If this passes, then shame, shame, shame.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from elkslayer wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

@fairclothcr
Think outside of your own unit, there are dozens that fall under the ATV rule, and it was put in place to prevent ATV hunters from overharvesting. The hunter ATV conflict you alluded to does not exist. Why else would non hunters be able to continue using atv's in hunting areas during the season. The atv rule only restricts ATV's as an aid to hunting. It has nothing to do with motorized vehicle closures.

In fact the atv rule allows you to use your atv to pack in camp and pack out meat.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steven L. Bunt wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

USFS has its own Law Enforcment,as does the BLM,these agency's control access and have there own limits,as was the case of the Squaw Butte fire a few years ago,BLM restricted travel for (2)years. Let Idaho FISH&GAME deal with fish&game and let the Land Managers deal with there Forests,and Deserts. If you have Questions,Call the Law enforcement in charge of the area your going. There polite,they Don't BITE;it may take them a day or so to return your call,They will CALL you back. I have done it for years. Most of IDAHO is Federal Land-Keep Idaho FISH&GAME out of the FED's area! Does anyone remember TREAD LIGHTLY!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Erik Jensen wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

Do any of these legislators catering to the ATV lobby ever listen to any elk biologists ? They all say that elk avoid motorized areas. It's anti-hunting legislation, end of story.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from fairclothcr wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

@ elkslayer
Respectfully I will have to disagree with you in regards to the hunter/ATV conflict. I have been to many hearings before the committees, and the first thing that IDFG Director and Dep Director point out is that this rule was adopted due to surveys that were sent out and it showed hunter/atv conflicts as the main reason for adopting the rule, now they have added threats that they will have to reduce hunting opportunities ... they need to provide statistical data in doing such, which they don't have cause they have been asked for it.

@Steven Bunt
Well said let each land manager take care of their respective areas. And I don't care what law is made you will always have those renegades and hunters have them also they are called POACHERS.

This bill is about authority, and IDFG lacks the authority to closed trails that are otherwise considered open by the land managers

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from bberg7794 wrote 1 year 28 weeks ago

I don't understand why Idaho would attempt to distinguish between recreational ATV use and ATV use for assistance in hunting. If it is determined that ATV use conflicts with wildlife conservation goals in a particular area, then ATV use should not be allowed by anybody in that area. I believe this is partly why Washington State started building off-road vehicle parks (To give recreational motorized vehicle users a place to go that is not sensitive to wildlife).

Almost all of my relatives and friends who live in Washington, Idaho and Montana agree that the best thing that ever happened regarding elk hunting there was the road closure policies implemented in the 90's. This allowed the elk that were continually pushed into very rugged sanctuary areas to come out of those areas and spend more time on timber company properties, enjoying better forage and also allowing hunters to pursue them in easier terrain; on foot, horseback or bicycle.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Pacific Hunter wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

Use the quads that god gave ya

+6 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

So now yer out in the woods trying to be quiet hunting, and a bunch of these ATV crazies are out there running around. More hunters will give it up.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Themasterdan wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

Idaho is my home state. I will say this about "hunting" off of ATV's: they are loud, they are obnoxious, and they are usually driven by loud and obnoxious people (I know I will get dinged for this. I have 2 ATV's but only drive them around my family's ranch). If you feel the need to ride into the back country, you should have to follow some special rules. I think the IDFG should mandate that if you have a tag you cannot ride a ATV with a loaded gun on the vehicle. If your gun is loaded than you forfeit your ATV, Gun, $10000, and lose your hunting privileges for one year. Either that or designate that if you ride an ATV into your hunting unit, you cannot actually hunt for 24 hours. Basically you

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from tom donohue wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

I am opposed to all atv use in any backcountry setting for any purpose whatsoever. The abuse of these machines will probably do more to hurt hunting than all the animal rights groups combined, and its hunters who will have brought it upon themselves.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from benjaminwc wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

I'm an Idaho native. We have enough problems with maintaining our wildlife poulations without these damn things tearing up habitat. If this passes, then shame, shame, shame.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from elkslayer wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

As an Idaho native and resident I am dissapointed that this bill has passed. The ATV crowd has focused on the wrong issues. The Fish and Game has the authority to regulate tools used for hunting, this includes guns, bows and should include ATV's. Fish and game has stated that the atv rule was implemented because of overharvest in areas of High ATV use for hunting. Just like most areas do not allow rifle hunting during the elk rut because it would result in overharvest. Fish and game also stated that if ATV's are to be allowed then these areas will go from OTC tags to draw only seasons. This will reduce the opportunities in these areas.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from elkslayer wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

The ATV rule was put in place because the increased access the ATV's provide resulted in overharvest. Without ATV's we can continue to have OTC tags and open seasons. Fish and game stated that without the ATV rule many of these units will have to become draw only tags. When that happens not even the lazy ATV hunters will be able to hunt there anymore

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from wolverine78 wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

to Jay, hunting is absolutely a right(similiar to voting its a right of law abiding citizens), thankfully the Idaho legislature is currently in the process of passing a "right to hunt and fish" amendment to the state constitution......

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Erik Jensen wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

Do any of these legislators catering to the ATV lobby ever listen to any elk biologists ? They all say that elk avoid motorized areas. It's anti-hunting legislation, end of story.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from fairclothcr wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

@ elkslayer
Respectfully I will have to disagree with you in regards to the hunter/ATV conflict. I have been to many hearings before the committees, and the first thing that IDFG Director and Dep Director point out is that this rule was adopted due to surveys that were sent out and it showed hunter/atv conflicts as the main reason for adopting the rule, now they have added threats that they will have to reduce hunting opportunities ... they need to provide statistical data in doing such, which they don't have cause they have been asked for it.

@Steven Bunt
Well said let each land manager take care of their respective areas. And I don't care what law is made you will always have those renegades and hunters have them also they are called POACHERS.

This bill is about authority, and IDFG lacks the authority to closed trails that are otherwise considered open by the land managers

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jay wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

They absolutely should be able to regulate ATV use. As for the folks that claim they "need" an ATV to hunt I say ride a horse or mule. Hunting is privilege, not a right. If you physically cannot handle the back country then you need to hunt elsewhere or take up golf.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 2lb.test wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

I agree with you in spirit jay but horse and mule traffic is only marginally better that atv traffic. yes they're quieter and less annoying but as far as trail damage and erosion concerns they can absolutely cause similar problems.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from fairclothcr wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

I think this needs a little clarification. We aren't asking to ride all over the mountain side we are only asking to be able to use the trails that have been designated as open by the USFS and BLM.
With the implementation of Travel Management plans on all USFS & BLM land as mandated by the federal government, cross country travel was eliminated and certain trails were determined to be closed due to numerous reasons, and the Idaho Fish and Game was and did provide comments before these decisions were made. So now we have Travel Management Plans and IDFG has decided to classify an ATV as an aid to hunting (An ATV is no more of an aid to hunting than a horse, bike, walking, etc) so they have enacted a motorized rule which states that hunters (and hunters only) cannot travel on trails unless capable of being traveled by a full size vehicle.
We aren’t asking to be able to hunt from our ATV, just to be able to travel an open ATV trail, park and hike into our favorite location.
As a recreational rider (not hunters) you can travel on these trails regardless of the time of year, so how does one determine if that person is hunting or not. Also, I can as a hunter travel on the trail if I am going to a location to setup a camp, and then hike in from that location.
It is a very confusing rule and the Attorney General has stated that IDFG doesn't have the legal authority to regulate such travel.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from fairclothcr wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

@ elkslayer

Fish and Game has always stated that the rule was implemented due to hunter/atv conflict and this was true before there were travel management plans in-place now that state you must only travel on designated ATV trails, you can no longer go cross-country (off trail). Fish and Game has never stated that the ATV rule was because of overharvest. They have stated if the bill does pass then they MAY have to use other tools available, they continue to threaten ALL hunters with not statistical data to back them up. Area 39 is one of the biggest hunting areas in Idaho and they have only implemented the motorized rule during the black powder hunt at the request of the hunters for a more traditional hunt. If ATV's contributed to overharves then why hasn't this area came under the motorized rule. If IDFG ever reduce the hunts it will be due to the wolves killing so many of our Elk, not because of ATVs. There are many statistics online that state ATV hunters have a much lower success rate than others.
This bill is necessary because IDFG according to the Attorney General lacks the authority to implement this rule.
The rule is also very confusing, for example if you are hunting how do you know that if I am on my ATV on the trail during hunting season (which is legal if I am not hunting) how do you know whether I am a hunter or a recreational rider. Also, you can use your ATV to travel on the trails during hunting season to setup a camp, what is the difference if you want to ride your ATV on an open trail and park it off the trail and walk to your favorite hunting spot?
If we allow IDFG to implement rules that they have no legislative authority to do so, what other agencies are we going to allow to do the same?
This rule isn't about allowing those that have ATV's to hunt off of there ATV it is simply to allow those hunters to travel on open ATV trails as so stated open by the federal government (USFS and BLM)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from elkslayer wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

@fairclothcr
Think outside of your own unit, there are dozens that fall under the ATV rule, and it was put in place to prevent ATV hunters from overharvesting. The hunter ATV conflict you alluded to does not exist. Why else would non hunters be able to continue using atv's in hunting areas during the season. The atv rule only restricts ATV's as an aid to hunting. It has nothing to do with motorized vehicle closures.

In fact the atv rule allows you to use your atv to pack in camp and pack out meat.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steven L. Bunt wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

USFS has its own Law Enforcment,as does the BLM,these agency's control access and have there own limits,as was the case of the Squaw Butte fire a few years ago,BLM restricted travel for (2)years. Let Idaho FISH&GAME deal with fish&game and let the Land Managers deal with there Forests,and Deserts. If you have Questions,Call the Law enforcement in charge of the area your going. There polite,they Don't BITE;it may take them a day or so to return your call,They will CALL you back. I have done it for years. Most of IDAHO is Federal Land-Keep Idaho FISH&GAME out of the FED's area! Does anyone remember TREAD LIGHTLY!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bberg7794 wrote 1 year 28 weeks ago

I don't understand why Idaho would attempt to distinguish between recreational ATV use and ATV use for assistance in hunting. If it is determined that ATV use conflicts with wildlife conservation goals in a particular area, then ATV use should not be allowed by anybody in that area. I believe this is partly why Washington State started building off-road vehicle parks (To give recreational motorized vehicle users a place to go that is not sensitive to wildlife).

Almost all of my relatives and friends who live in Washington, Idaho and Montana agree that the best thing that ever happened regarding elk hunting there was the road closure policies implemented in the 90's. This allowed the elk that were continually pushed into very rugged sanctuary areas to come out of those areas and spend more time on timber company properties, enjoying better forage and also allowing hunters to pursue them in easier terrain; on foot, horseback or bicycle.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from fairclothcr wrote 2 years 4 weeks ago

@Themasterdan

I agree with your statement in regards to not being able to ride on an ATV with a loaded gun during the hunting season, this legislation IS NOT meant to allow for hunting off of an ATV. It is to allow those that desire to use opened trails as stated in the Travel Managment Plans of the USFS and the BLM.

-2 Good Comment? | | Report

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