Fall is in the air, leaves are changing colors, and hunters are beginning their quest for big game.
Since 2010 all National Forests in Utah have prohibited using motorized vehicles off designated roads and trails to hunt or retrieve game. Because the Manti-La Sal National Forest previously allowed hunters to take motorized vehicles 150 feet off road to retrieve game, forest officers want to remind them of the rule change.
In order to help hunters and other forest users stay in compliance with the rule, the Manti-La Sal has developed Motorized Vehicle Use Maps showing all official roads and trails on the forest. It is available in district offices and on the forest web site: http://www.fs.fed.us/r4/mantilasal/maps/.
Hunters are being asked to be prepared to hunt and retrieve game on foot or horseback.
Many hunters welcome the new rule, believing that noisy motorized vehicles spook game and ruin their hunting experience. Animals stressed by motorized vehicles are not as healthy as those that are able to live in a naturally quiet habitat, according to wildlife biologists.
Hunting is an important and time-honored activity on National Forest System Lands. However, as the use of off-highway vehicles has increased dramatically in recent years, watersheds and habitats have suffered from cross-country travel. In order to protect soils, vegetation, wildlife, fisheries, and wetlands, off-highway travel has been restricted to designated roads and trails.
Forest users found in violation of the rule will be cited and ordered to appear in federal court. Any violation of this rule is punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, and/or imprisonment for not more than six months and restitution for the damages.