Mountain bikers near Bogus Basin were recently dismayed to find a designated non-motorized trail damaged by motorized ATV riders. But what they should have been worried about was the bear-baiting site near the trail.
Officials from the Boise National Forest discovered that several ATVs were ridden on the mountain bike trail sometime earlier this spring. The motorized excursion, and the related trail-widening done by the riders, caused enough damage to catch everyone's attention. The creation of a new trail down a hillside was of particular concern because of the threat of erosion.
Larry Donohoo, resource assistant on the Mountain Home Ranger District, said evidence shows the riders were most likely bear hunters who came into the area from private land before cutting across country over public land. The area is specifically designated for non-motorized users.
Donohoo also discovered a bear-baiting site off the trail on public land. The site was made up of brush and logs to funnel a hungry bear into a specific area where bait would be placed within sight of a waiting hunter.
While bear hunting is legal in the area, as is bear-baiting, the location of these baiting sites is strictly set in state hunting regulations.
Clay Cummins, assistant chief of Idaho Fish and Game's Enforcement Bureau, said baiting sites cannot be within 200 feet of water or 200 yards of any maintained trail. "The idea behind the thing is to get it away from where people are traveling," he said.
Cummins said violations of bear-baiting regulations are a misdemeanor and can earn an offending hunter a fine of $25 to $1,000, depending on the circumstances.
Donohoo said he had contacted an ATV rider in the area who admitted placing two other baiting sites farther up the trail on public lands. An investigation is still under way. If violations are issued, Donohoo said it would most likely be for operating a motorized vehicle in a non-motorized area and creating a new trail. These offenses carry a fine of between $50 and $100 each.
David Gordon, trail coordinator for Ridge to Rivers, said bikers were quick to notice the damage. "They left a mark," he said.
Gordon has posted signs marking the area as non-motorized, and several mountain bikers are working to rehabilitate the trail.