How to minimize the impact on the environment while hunting

OGDEN, Utah—Guns are polished, bows are tuned, and the flannel is ironed—sure signs hunting season is beginning.

As traditional hunting continues in popularity, and as off-highway vehicles grow as standard hunting tools, land managers are increasing their efforts to educate hunters about how to reduce their impact on the environment.

As a result, the nonprofit organization Tread Lightly! offers the following tips on ways to minimize impact while hunting:

1. Always keep your vehicle on designated OHV trails. Never make your own shortcuts, switchbacks or trails.

2. Check with your local land managers regarding game retrieval regulations. Typically, you should get as close as possible to your game without driving off the road or trail, and then travel by foot to the site of your kill.

3. Don’t leave animal remains in wetland or riparian areas, campgrounds, roads or trails.

4. It is damaging and, in most cases, illegal to use permanent tree stands, blinds, spikes, nails or platforms on public land.

5. Flagging and marking trails is unsightly. If flagging is necessary, remove it as you leave.

6. If you must cross a stream while driving, do so only at approved fording points (usually where the trail crosses the water). Cross slowly and at a 90-degree angle.

7. Avoid sensitive areas. Steer clear of stream banks, lakeshores and meadows whenever possible. Remember, motorized vehicles are not allowed in areas designated “wilderness.”

8. Observe proper sanitary waste disposal by burying human waste 6-8 inches deep and at least 200 feet from trails, campsites, lakes or streams.

9. Carry out what you carry in. Pick up shell casings whenever possible. Never litter, and avoid burning or burying trash.

10. Educate yourself and be prepared. Contact your local land managers to learn about local hunting laws and permit regulations. Make sure you also have the right maps, equipment and clothing to make your trip safe. Tell someone where you are going and when you will return.

For more in-depth instruction about responsible hunting, Tread Lightly! and the International Hunter Education Association have developed a curriculum called Educational Tools for Hunters: Improving Choices (E.T.H.I.C. ). The curriculum can be downloaded or purchased at

Tread Lightly! is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower generations to enjoy the outdoors responsibly. Tread Lightly!’s strategic educational message, along with its training and stewardship initiatives, are designed to instill an ethic of responsibility in outdoor enthusiasts and the industries that serve them. The program is long term in scope, with a goal to balance the needs of the people who enjoy outdoor recreation with the needs of the environment.

From the Oct. 12-18, 2005, issue

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