Regarding Bill 1015 & 1016
S1015 and S1016 ATV as an Aid to Hunting.
There has been a great deal of misinformation about what might be the result of the two Senate bills 1015 and 1016. Either bill could pass and would help to solve a part of the basic problem. Together they resolve the basic problem which is; unequal treatment among classes of vehicles. The following points should serve to bring some understanding of the issues.
· A motorized vehicle (ATV) should not be defined as an “aid to hunting”. If we allow the F&G to do so then every vehicle we drive into the forest or even the horse we ride may potentially be construed as an aid to hunting and its use restricted.
· The F&G has exceeded their statutory authority by trying to enforce an expanded Administrative Rule that seeks to manage game by prohibiting the use of motorized vehicles by hunters only, on the premise that such vehicles are an “Aid to Hunting”.
· ATV usage or abuse on public and private lands is a public policy debate that should occur on merit not obfuscated by a flawed unenforceable game management strategy.
· F&G has, by Administrative Rule, closed federally owned trails to motorized vehicles used for hunting and only hunting. Trails that should be open to everyone or closed to everyone.
· The only ATV’s (motorized vehicles) that are restricted are those being operated by a hunter. Tourists, sport riders, campers, and every other use of the vehicles are not prohibited because F&G has no authority to control the other classes of users.
· Hunters can use ATV’s if they are camping or retrieving game.
· The legislation affirms that state, federal and private land owners have the authority to manage their own lands. The ATV behaviors that are condemned by opponents are already illegal behaviors and this legislation does not impact those rulings.
· Many game management tools and strategies are available to F&G apart from ineffectually managing ATV’s.
· An example: A person wearing camos or hunter orange and carrying a sidearm or rifle (even in a case) must walk on trails because they may be construed to be hunting. Another person not wearing camos or hunter orange may travel down the same trail without restriction.
· “Aid to Hunting” must not be confused with or used as a synonymous term for “Method of Take”.
· The legislation says that F&G may not restrict a method of transportation.
· The legislation says that F&G may not designate a motorized vehicle as an “Aid to Hunting”.
Fish & Game abuse of ATV
My name is Chet Hopkins and I live in Soda Springs. My phone number if anyone would like to speak to me is 2085474789 I would like to relate to you an experience that happened to my son, Brandon, last fall during the later part of September in unit 76. To give you a little background, we hunt in the area of the old Stump Creek Road that leads to Stump Peak in unit 76. Some 15 years ago the road was closed off, by the purchase of the land by an out of state buyer. The first thing the buyer did was to close the access to the national forest. The county commissioners did not fight it because; they said they didn't have the money if it went to court. It was considered a 1911 road. So a trail was built, from the new lanes creek road to the old Stump Peak road, in order to access the old road above the closed private property. The forest service declared the trail, an adopted trail, and added it to their maps, as a way to access the old road up to Stump Peak area. Since then Forest Service has changed the road to Stump Peak, as a trail on all maps. The only access to this 7 miles of road, now, is the trail that was built.
With this new fish and game ruling the only way you can hunt this area now, is to pack a camp in. My two sons and I did this during September. Work at times took them out of camp and back to work. I, on the other hand, stayed and hunted everyday until it was time to pack out. Oh, and by the way, every night I traveled the trail back to the main road where I could get cell service, checked in with family members, work, and etc, that needed my attention. I always had with me my pack with my hand gun, but no bow and arrow. I had asked my boys to come back in and help pack me out on my last day I could hunt. They each arrived at the trail head at separate times. Brandon came first. He had traveled about half way across the trail when he was stopped by a fish and game officer. Brandon was wearing camo clothing and looked as we all do that time of year in camp. He had no bow, but did pack a 40 caliber hand gun on his hunting pack. (We have packed weapons since a good friend of ours, Jason Koller, was attacked by a black bear in this same area while we were hunting with him. He did survive, which is another story.) Brandon had earlier in the season killed a mule deer and also a nice bull elk. He did have on his possession a bear and mountain lion tag. Every year we buy the sportsman’s package which includes all tags with the purchase. He was asked what he was doing, and he responded traveling across the trail. He was not specific enough for the officer, I guess. He was asked if he was hunting. He said no. He was asked why he was wearing camo clothing. His response was that is what he wore for that day. He was asked for his hunting license which he provided to the officer. Officer Wackett, from the Pocatello office, was his name. The license had blood on it from handling, during the taking of his deer and elk. The officer immediately wanted to know facts of where, when, and how the animals had been harvested. Brandon cooperated, but the officer was confused why they were not taken in the same area that he was in at this time. Brandon explained that he worked, and hunted from home during the week. When the officer noticed the bear and mountain lion tag, he asked Brandon to follow him back across the trail to his truck, where his ticket book was, and was going to give him a ticket. Brandon asked why, and was told to follow Officer Wackett. He did so, and when they got back to the officers truck, Brandon explained to him that he had a weapons permit and was not hunting, and asked why he was getting a ticket. The officer asked to see the weapons permit. After the officer looked at the permit, he said he was letting him go, and was giving him a verbal warning. The warning was, he could not wear camo clothing unless he was hunting, and he could not pack a weapon on his 4 wheeler during a hunting season. If a camp had been established, he could not come out for any reason, not for food, not for propane, not for anything, even to check in with family members. If for any reason the hunter needed to come out, he has to pack up his camp, and bring it with him. He let Brandon go to cross the trail to camp. Then the officer is still standing by his truck when my other son rolls by him, starting across the trail. His name is David, and he also has camo clothing on, a pack on the front of the machine with a hand gun attached, and his little 7 year old boy Wyatt. The officer just nodded to him and let him go on the camp. He did not check his license or delay him in any way. After we got our camp loaded onto the 4 wheelers we headed across the trail, with anticipation of meeting this officer. I wanted badly to talk to him. He was gone. I wanted to ask him about the added regulations that he mentioned, that has never been talked about in any regulation or meeting that I have attended or read. We as hunters are being harassed by the establishment of this ruling. We should be able to travel the trails that are open to 4 wheeler traffic established by the forest service and their existing maps. I ask you to support 1015,1016. You are welcome to pass this along to anyone else you feel needs to know what is really going on! If needed, we have other witness that can testify of their experience that day, with the same officer. I urged those people, who are from Preston, Idaho to write a piece in the paper and relate to the public, what happened to them.
This is what happens when you have a regulation that is so vague, that is can be interpreted any way an officer of the Fish and Game wants.
Po Box 1781
Hayden, Idaho 83835