Wyoming Hunters Reminded of ATV Etiquette

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With big game hunting seasons getting into full swing, hunters using off road vehicles are reminded to keep other hunters in mind. It's no secret; the use of ORVs while hunting has increased dramatically over the past 10 years. With the increased use have come more complaints from other hunters about ORV use scaring game away, and creating new two-track trails.

"The use of ORVs while hunting continues to be a hot topic amongst hunters," said Mark Gocke, public information specialist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in Jackson. "The biggest frustration we hear comes from those hunters who have worked hard to quietly hike into backcountry areas only to have their hunting ruined by another hunter on a noisy ORV." Hunters using ORVs during hunting season, should remember to "Walk when you stalk."

In addition to the ethics, there are many state laws governing the use of ORVs that users may not be aware of. "Many ORV users are unaware that they are required to purchase and display a Wyoming ORV permit or have a current license plate when traveling on designated trails or enrolled roads," said Brad Hill, Wyoming State Trails Program manager. "ORVs are mostly restricted to travel on established roads, routes and trails on public lands across the state."

Motorists are strongly encouraged to contact the local land managers, such as the U.S. Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management, to see what is open for ORV use. Local land managers and permit selling agents provide state ORV maps free of charge.

Most hunters acknowledge that ORVs can and are being used ethically for hunting, but with the increased use there seems to be a similar trend of increased conflicts in the field. "Last year was riddled with illegal off road use," said Chris McNeil, Wyoming ORV safety and education coordinator. "Hunters and other users would ride their ORVs off designated roads, routes and trails just to see what is over next ridge or retrieve game, creating a new trails. This illegal activity is hard on all ORV users and land managers will be forced to implement more restrictions or close riding areas."

McNeil encourages all ORV users to know the rules and regulations of hunting with ORVs before going afield.

"Responsibility or regulations, it's your choice. Nobody wants more regulations regarding ORV use," Hill said. "That's why it's so important for us ORV users to take it upon ourselves to make sure we abide by the laws and lessen our impacts on the land, and other users."

For more information on ORV regulations and ethical use, contact your local officials with the Wyoming State trails program, forest service, BLM or Game and Fish.

"We are all here to help you have a successful and more enjoyable hunting season in Wyoming," says McNeil. "Respect and responsibility will increase our uses." (contact: Mark Gocke (307) 733-2321 or Brad Hill, WY State Trails Program (307) 777-7550)