Illegal e-bikes ruining habitat for wildlife, waterfowl areas

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Division of Wildlife Resources conservation officers are reminding the public that class 2 and class 3 electronic bikes are now illegal off-road on all wildlife and waterfowl management areas (WMAs) in Utah. With e-bikes increasing in popularity, issued warnings have arisen alongside it.

A new e-bike rule was passed by the Utah Wildlife Board in August and went into effect on November 7. Class 2 and class 3 e-bikes are now classified as “motorized vehicles.” Therefore motorized vehicle restrictions on wildlife or waterfowl management areas apply to these classes of e-bikes. These restrictions are often publicized with “no motorized vehicles” signs in areas of the WMAs.

Previously, only waterfowl management areas had rules about e-bike use and stated that only class 1 e-bikes could be used on established roads and other authorized areas. This new rule now extends the same e-bike rule to wildlife management areas. Class 2 and class 3 e-bikes, which can self-propel (and often contain a throttle), are prohibited from leaving roads open to motorized vehicles on all waterfowl and wildlife management areas.

“E-bike use, as a recreational activity, has increased dramatically in the past five to 10 years,” DWR Capt. Chad Bettridge said. “As a result, we are seeing increased use on our waterfowl and wildlife management areas. In areas where there is a lot of e-bike use, notable habitat damage is occurring. These new rules will help to preserve these properties for their intended use, which is for wildlife and their long-term benefit and health.”

There are 193 wildlife management areas and waterfowl management areas in Utah. The DWR started acquiring the areas in the late 1940s for several reasons:

  • To conserve critical habitats for wildlife

  • To help minimize and mitigate wildlife depredation on private property

  • To provide anglers and hunters — who provide funding for the WMAs through the purchase of a fishing or hunting license — a place to hunt and fish in Utah

“While we would like to provide recreational opportunities on our WMAs, these properties were purchased for the benefit of wildlife and wildlife habitat,” Bettridge said. “These properties are public land, but they are not multiple-use like many other state- and federally-owned properties. With the increased use of e-bikes, we are seeing these properties damaged, ultimately limiting our ability to manage them for their intended purpose.”

A citation for using a class 2 or class 3 e-bike off-road on any WMA is an infraction.

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