by Gary Hompland, Regional Conservation Officer
Question: "I'm new to big game hunting in Idaho. As I read the 2008 big game hunting brochure special notes on some hunts denote a motorized vehicle restriction. What's this all about?"
Answer: For many hunters, the rules you have questions about are referred to as the "Off-road ATV hunting rules."
Several years ago the Department sought ways to improve opportunities for big game hunting. One of the issues that surfaced each year involved hunters and non-hunters using ATVs inappropriately.
The inappropriate uses included off-road bush-whacking into roadless areas dispersing game animals and causing resource damage and unauthorized road/trail development. Within the off-road 4-wheeler groups these roads or trails became known as "troads."
The impact of motorized vehicles on the distribution of big game animals is well documented in research in Idaho and the northwest. Motorized access by the general public to previously secure areas for wildlife has had a dramatic impact on animal distribution, population numbers, vulnerability to predation, and big game harvest. Some critical habitats for big game security, wintering, elk calving, and deer fawning are no longer useable and valued by wildlife because of the frequent disturbance by motorized recreationists and hunters.
Public input from hunters supported a Fish and Game rule to restrict off-road use of ATVs and other motorized vehicles when used while hunting.
The Idaho Fish and Game Commission adopted special rules about the off-road use of all motorized vehicles by hunters in specific big game units for big game and upland game hunting.