Group Examines Off-Road Impacts

Article excerpt

Off-road vehicles -- namely, ATVs, dirt bikes and four-wheel- drive trucks meant specifically for driving off the pavement -- may be fun to drive, but they can negatively impact fish and wildlife populations.

That's according to a new survey by the Izaak Walton League of America.

In July and August, the group asked fish and wildlife managers from each of the 50 states about the impacts of off-road vehicles. Managers from 27 states replied.

Among other things, the survey revealed that:

* 83 percent of wildlife managers say they have seen "resource damage to wildlife habitat" caused by off-road vehicles.

* 61.1 percent of wildlife managers and 57.2 percent of state fisheries managers agreed or strongly agreed that off-road vehicles negatively impact hunting and fishing and habitats in their states.

* 53.3 percent of fisheries managers and 47.1 percent of wildlife managers said existing standards do not adequately protect fishing and hunting from off-road vehicle impacts.

The Izaak Walton League does not want to ban the use of off-road vehicles, said Kevin Proescholdt, director of its wilderness and public lands program. Clearly, though, "a reckless contingent of riders is harming fish and wildlife habitat and ruining hunting and fishing experiences for many people," he said.

The League will ask Congress to address the issue on federal lands. To read the League's full report, titled, "Collision Course? Off-Road Vehicle Impacts on Hunting and Fishing," visit www.iwla.org.

Bad move

Upset with the Pennsylvania Game Commission's deer management program, some hunters -- and even some state lawmakers -- have suggested giving control of things like how many doe licenses to issue to county authorities.

They might want to be careful what they wish for.

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich recently signed legislation that strips that state's Department of Natural Resources of its authority to regulate deer populations. …