Hunters must use ORVs legally
With firearm deer hunting season approaching, conservation officers at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources remind hunters heading afield using an off-road vehicle to follow ORV land-use regulations.
“Each year, we see hunters using ORVs where it is illegal to operate them,” said Lt. Andrew Turner, who leads the DNR’s recreation safety program. “We remind hunters that ORV restrictions are in place to protect natural resources and minimize user conflict with other hunters and outdoor recreation enthusiasts. To ensure everyone’s safety and to help everyone have an enjoyable hunt, we ask riders to know the rules and encourage others to do the same.”
ORV land-use regulations hunters should be aware of include the following:
It is illegal to operate an ORV on public lands in the Lower Peninsula that are not posted open. ORVs are prohibited on state game areas or state parks and recreation areas unless posted open.
On state forest lands, ORV use on designated trails is limited to vehicles less than 50 inches in width. Off-trail or off-route ORV operation outside of a designated area is prohibited, except for licensed hunters operating an ORV at speeds of 5 miles per hour or less using the shortest possible route to the game for the purpose of removing deer, bear or elk. Big-game ORV retrieval provisions do not apply to the Pigeon River Country State Forest or to state game areas and national forests.
In all national forests, motor vehicles can be used only on roads, trails or areas that are designated as open on Motor Vehicle Use maps. For more information, contact the local national forest headquarters.
It is illegal to operate an ORV from 7 to 11 a.m. and 2 to 5 p.m. on any area open to public hunting during the Nov. 15-30 firearm deer season. For exceptions to these time restrictions, see the 2014 Hunting and Trapping Digest or the Handbook of Michigan Off-Road Vehicle Laws.
Roads, streets and highways maintained for year-round automobile travel (including the shoulder and the right-of-way) are closed to ORV operation unless designated open to ORV use by local ordinance. ORV operators should check with the county for local ordinances.
Private land is closed to ORV operation except by the landowner and the landowner’s invited guests.
An ORV may not be operated in a manner that creates an erosive condition. Michigan’s soils and shorelines are fragile, and ORV operation in these areas and along stream banks and other waterways is restricted.
It is unlawful to operate any ORV in or on the waters of any stream, river, marsh, bog, wetland or quagmire.
For more information about ORV regulations -including rules for transporting firearms and hunting provisions for those with disabilities -see the Handbook of Michigan Off-Road Vehicle Laws by visiting www.michigan.gov/dnrtrails and clicking the ORV button. Maps of state-designated ORV trails also can be found there.