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ATVs Fun Or Foe

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Published on: Jun. 2, 2002

Last revision: Nov. 12, 2010

Despite layers of warm clothing, the pre-dawn chill wormed its way into the hunter's bones. The dawning sun spread light across the tree tops on the ridge in front of him. Soon its warmth would steal into the hunter's stand. For deer hunters, this is a magical time of day.

The hunter was reflecting on all the planning and scouting he had done for last two months. He knew for certain that deer were still using the same trails he was guarding. Suddenly, he heard the familiar, steady trot of hooves in dry leaves. Eighty yards away, a large rack of antlers appeared at the edge of a clump of dark green cedars.

He grunted a couple of times and waited. A nice buck stepped out from behind the trees and started toward him, sniffing the air for the phantom buck the hunter had imitated with the grunt call.

The hunter cautiously raised his bow. When the buck was about 45 yards away he suddently stopped and turned slightly. His ears twisted like radar antennae, and his tail flicked nervously from side to side.

The hunter soon heard what had alerted the deer. At first just an annoying buzz, the sound gradually grew deafening in the quiet woods. The buck had already fled.

Only a few seconds later an ATV approached his stand. The driver shut off the motor, looked up at him and asked him if he had seen any deer yet.

All Terrain Vehicles (ATV) have been at the center of controversy for a number of years. The conflict mentioned here is one of many that have occurred between ATV riders and outdoors enthusiasts, not to mention resource managers. The cause of the problems are not the vehicles themselves, but the thoughtless and sometimes illegal behavior of the riders.

For example, we recently received an e-mail from a private landowner who was concerned about her neighbors riding their ATVs up and down the stream that ran through her property. The activity was causing some major erosion problems and harming the quality of the water. The landowner knew such activity was against the law and casually mentioned it to her neighbor, but the neighbor responded by saying, "That law doesn't apply to us. That is only for state land. Besides that, what's the harm?"

She faced a dilemma. She wanted to keep peace with her neighbor, but she also wanted

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