Hunters using e-bikes are reminded to be aware of the restrictions

With hunting season in full swing, conservation officers in other parts of Idaho are noticing a trend of hunters violating motor vehicle use restrictions on public lands. In a number of cases, hunters use e-bikes and mistakenly assume that motorized vehicle restrictions do not apply to them.

It is ultimately the hunter’s responsibility to know and respect the vehicle use restrictions on public lands. Hunters should know the land management agency for the property they are hunting, as well as that agency’s policy for the use of motorized vehicles in the district they are hunting, and whether it applies to e-bikes . Policies can and do differ by land management agency.

On lands managed by the US Forest Service, for example, e-bikes are currently considered a “motor vehicle” and are only permitted on National Forest System roads and trails designated for motorized vehicle use.

“A lot of people think that because e-bikes don’t have to be registered as motorized vehicles, they’re considered non-motorized. But that’s not true,” said district conservation officer Marshall Haynes. “On USFS land, it is illegal to use e-bikes anywhere you cannot take a motorized or powered vehicle, or a trail specifically designated as open to e-bikes.”

Here is more information on the use of motorized vehicles specific to US Forest Service lands. Hunters should also be aware that each USFS district has a Travel Management Plan specific to its area, which is released annually and is free to the public in several formats. Just because it may look like there is a road or trail you can drive on doesn’t mean it’s legal.

Another thing to consider is the Idaho Fish and Game Motorized Hunting Rule, which is specific to hunting big game, including moose, bighorn sheep, and mountain goat, in designated units. between August 30 and December 31. You can find a unit map with the Motorized Hunting Rule restrictions on page 106 of the Idaho Big Game 2022 Seasons & Rules brochure.

In these designated units, hunters may use motorized vehicles only on established roads open to motorized traffic and capable of being traveled by large automobiles. According to Idaho law, a “motor vehicle” means any water, land, or air vehicle propelled by steam, petroleum products, electricity, or other mechanical power, which includes electric bicycles.

Wiley C. Thompson