Idaho anticipates ATV law will be challenged again next year

robby denning

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Hey hardcore hunters,
if you followed my thread a few weeks ago, you knew that some groups were trying to strip Idaho F&G authority to regulate ATV use, saying it's land management agency job to regulate ATV (problem is BLM, and Forest Service have struggled big time to enforce the ATV laws and admit it). The bill got defeated and F&G, who will look out for hunters first can still regulate the ATV use.

Well, word on the street is that the issue will be back next year. If you want what's left of Idaho to stay a little wild, it's important to stay up on the issue. I don't have permission to include F&G names, but here are some email exchanges from a F&G officials with Lou Griffin, a local sportsmen (and one of my favorite big deer hunters) who was crucial in getting this bill defeated -thanks Lou. (I did get permission to post these comments):

Fish and Game: "Victory this year but they will be back again next year. What happens in between will probably make all the difference."

Lou Griffin: "Yes, but we rallied the Senators from Eastern Idaho and got them on our side…vote was 20 to 15. Without Davis, Mortimer and Siddoway it would have been 17 no 18 yes…like a couple other votes were cast in the Senate.

The power IDFG has (substantial) is getting it out to the public that if this issue comes back and they are unable to manage ATV usage during hunting season we may only have a 5 day deer season in Eastern Idaho! That will flush the ‘silent majority’ out and the politicians will hear it loud and clear. Plus putting it back in the politicians lap that Idaho is in a much better position to manage this issue rather than ceding to the Federal agencies. Lots of talk with politicians regarding local control vs. federal but when it really counts they take it from the state and hand it off for federal oversight?! That does not play well and good luck defending it…if you are a politician.

IDFG needs to communicate to the public the ramifications of this issue and if they are ok with a weekend deer hunt with ATVs or closed to ATVs and get 10 days! That’s a powerful message to the sportsmen."

If you're not up on what I'm talking about, basically Id F&G is trying to keep ATV hunters on main roads and off trails, even if the trail is open. This sounds like they are overstepping their boundary but they aren't under current law and have kept thousands of ATV abuses from occuring. The ATV law for Idaho is on pages 79-80 here:

http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/docs/rules/bgInfo.pdf

My sources tell me the fight isn't over and if the ATV people win, it will not help hunting in any way. Can you imagine a 5 day deer season? Reminds me of Colorado's 3 day deer season in mid-90's which failed miserably.
 
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T43

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Hopefully this doesn't get passed next year. Between this bill and Siddoway's wolf and landowner tag bills there were to many close calls for bad legislation this year. Hopefully next year will be better.
 
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robby denning

robby denning

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I can say in some of the SE and S Idaho units my company scouts, that we've seen the law help the hunt quality. It's not perfect, but does make most people aware that they need to get off and hike rather than buzz around looking for a place to hunt.

Only downside is people can pack camp or pack out animals on the trails. That sounds harmless, but you see lots of guys with a tent strapped to their ATV saying they are heading to camp - at first light?????

I don't know this for sure, but the wardens apprarantly look for how easily person can access a weapon before deciding to ticket them- if firearm is cased and camp gear is on ATV, probably no ticket.

Does anyone have first hand experience with this isssue?
 

Rizzy

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I have heard that packing animals and camp in/out is allowed on trails but wasn't sure of the validity of what I heard. It seems like a blatant double standard type of law. Seems that it promotes hunters to use there atv on the trails while keeping the joy riders off. Personally, I think atv's should be outlawed in all public land during the hunting season. There is simply too many irresponsible users out there ruining the environment with them. I have noticed areas around Idaho city that are just tore up and trashed out from off road atv use.
 
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robby denning

robby denning

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Rizzy, non hunters (joy riders) can still ride the trails if the Forest or BLM has that trail open. It's hunters who are limited and is why those affected want the law overturned.

By October, and often September, the number of joy riders is way down, so mostly just hunters out there. You can read the law in the regs in the link in the first post.

Short of an all out ban (I could only wish) this is a pretty good law.
 

Mike7

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Robby, so you think an all out ban on otherwise open trails just during hunting season would even be impossible to get through? I guess a few ATV riders might scream, but it would seem that the Feds would want to support this in order to make enforcement easier and protect the animals better? Also, I don't see how ATV hunters can contest this current law since they are in the act of hunting (even if just setting up camp) while riding their ATV...all of which should be able to be regulated by Fish and Wildlife. Fish and Wildlife can tell you how and when you can hunt on your own property, so it seems clear that they should be able to tell hunters what methods they can use on federal land (i.e. with or without motorized vehicle aid).

The forest service certainly closes some trails/areas to all motorized vehicles for wintertime big game protection, but I never new if this was at the request of their own fed biologists or at the recommedation of the state dept's of fish and game?
 

Rizzy

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I see, that makes more sense. I was under the impression hunters where allowed to use the trails that where normally closed during the season.

Designating more areas as "Wilderness" might solve the problem?
 
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robby denning

robby denning

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Mike7, If I understand your question, I would be for a ban on trails during hunting season. It would be easier to enforce than the quasi-ban we have now. Your points about F&G having the rights is what the whole debate is about. Some think they shouldn't have the rights but as you say, they regulate private land hunting (and types of weapons and seasons and etc etc.) so regulating ATV's, they think, should fall into their hands, too.

Rizzy, sounds like you had it backwards, hunters CANNOT ride trails that are open to everyone else. On the surface, it makes people think F&G is overstepping, but they aren't, they just recognize ATV's have to be controlled and this is the only way they can: enforce hunters not to use them off main roads.

whew, I get confused writing about it....
 

Mike7

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I got you now Robby. So, if I'm understanding this right F&G could completely close the trails down to ATVs for hunters if they really wanted to, but depending upon the law may or may not be able to close the trails down for everyone else. It sure would be nice if F&G could just get a gentleman's agreement from the Forest Service/BLM to totally close down those trails to everybody during hunting season at least, so then it really wouldn't matter so much which way the law ultimately was decided.

The feds are such a big bureacracy though. The agreement would have to be with the Regional Forest Service Manager or someone quite high up likely, because the local Forest Service and BLM biologists who would likely be great working with F&G don't have any real decision making power.
 
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robby denning

robby denning

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Mike7, you're getting closer...

F&G could completely close the trails down to ATVs for hunters if they really wanted to, but depending upon the law may or may not be able to close the trails down for everyone else.
Under current law:

YES, F&G is closing trails to hunters in the act of hunting.

NO, F&G isn't even trying to close trails down to everyone else, just hunters.

clear as mud?
 
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