Several hunters were recently ticketed by U.S. Forest Service law enforcement for illegally using off-highway vehicles on the Medicine Bow National Forest.

An undisclosed number of hunters were cited in two separate incidents on Oct. 16 and Oct. 23 for driving off-highway vehicles -- such as side-by-sides or four-wheelers -- in areas without legal roads.

Aaron Voos of the U.S. Forest Service says agency law enforcement officers deal with similar incidents year-round.

"It is an issue that we're aware of. Our law enforcement is focused on it, they are issuing citations if they do catch up with people that have been driving where they're not supposed to," Voos says.

Forest Service regulations prohibit operating off-highway vehicles off designated routes. Such vehicles may be used to retrieve game or camp, but only within 300 feet of a designated roadway.

Driving off designated routes can harm soils, vegetation, wildlife habitat and herd movement, and the damage can last for many years.

It's not a difficult rule to follow, especially if the off-highway vehicle isn't being driven on county roads or state highways.

If that's the case, Voos says, then all the operator needs is the state off-highway vehicle sticker for the appropriate year.

Using off-highway vehicles off designated routes is a class B misdemeanor that can result in fines of up to $5,000 and up to six months in jail.

Forest Service law enforcement can also seize all equipment used in the commission of the crime.

Physical copies of Motor Vehicle Use maps are available for free at all Forest Service District Offices. If a road isn't on that map, it's unauthorized -- and illegal for any off-highway vehicle to travel.

Digital maps are also available for free through PDF Maps -- Avenza Mapps app -- on mobile devices. Once the app is installed, visit this website to download or open the Motor Vehicle Use map.

The public can report any violations in Wyoming by calling 1-877-943-3847.

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