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New e-bike restrictions take effect in wildlife and waterfowl management areas

black electric bicycle
Mikefairbanks
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Class 2 and 3 e-bikes are now prohibited in WMAs.

Effective since November 7th, off-road use of class 2 and class 3 e-bikes is prohibited in all waterfowl and wildlife management areas (WMAs).

“And these are areas that the division of wildlife resources owns, specifically for preserving habitat, and protecting wildlife and then giving sportsmen and -women who want to go out and hunt and fish areas that they can go and hunt and fish,” said Chad Bettridge, Captain with the Division of Wildlife Resources law enforcement.

Bettridge said class 2 and 3 e-bikes are bikes that are propelled with throttles.

“You don't have to, you don't have to pedal as hard. So you're, you're maybe a little more willing to get farther off the trail and to get into places that you normally wouldn't go if you were on a pedal bike," Bettridge said.

Off-road vehicle traffic leads to new trails being created, Bettridge said.

“And then those trails get expanded, which destroys habitat that is critical for winter feeding grounds for deer, and resting ponds for waterfowl. … Once a small trail is created, and then other people start going up and down on these same trails, the damage just keeps compounding on top of itself,” Bettridge said.

Bettridge says foot traffic is allowed in all wildlife management areas, but some areas close down in the winter to protect deer populations.

“So it's just important for people to understand when they're going to a WMA to look at the signs. There'll be different signs different times a year, and it might even reference, you know, check our website to see what the restrictions are,” Bettridge said.

There are 193 wildlife management areas and waterfowl management areas in Utah. Ultimately, Bettridge said, WMAs were created to protect Utah’s natural resources and offer recreational opportunities to its residents.

Caroline Long is a science reporter at UPR. She is curious about the natural world and passionate about communicating her findings with others. As a PhD student in Biology at Utah State University, she spends most of her time in the lab or at the coyote facility, studying social behavior. In her free time, she enjoys making art, listening to music, and hiking.