TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - As many shed antler hunters prepare to scour the landscape for the best dropped rack, the Arizona Game and Fish Department reminds those utilizing an off-highway vehicle (OHV) in their search to stay on roads and trails.
"Just like during the hunting season, it's important for those using an OHV to remember to ride safely and responsibly," said Matt Eberhart, AZGFD OHV Safety Education coordinator, in a recent release. "That includes always wearing a helmet while operating the machine and safeguarding against habitat damage by riding on established trails. Once you've found your search area, all sheds should be packed out by foot to keep habitats intact."
Many animals shed their antlers in the spring and spend the summer and fall seasons growing a new set. Many shed hunters begin their search in early spring and utilize OHVs to easily cover more ground.
However, damage caused by those driving off-trail can take more than 100 years to recover, especially if the area traveled is wet. Vehicle tracks can be seen by other users as an open invitation to unknowingly ruin a pristine recreational area.
OHV operators are reminded that riding off-trail is illegal, negatively impacts wildlife and can cause erosion in sensitive areas.
Additionally, excessive noise can cause animals to leave their normal habitat or could startle an animal into defending their territory. Minimizing impact on habitat is key to successful wildlife conservation.
For more information about the Arizona Game and Fish Department's OHV program and safety course options, visit www.azgfd.gov/ohv.