I am writing in response to the proposal by the Yukon Off-Road Riders Association to create a prohibition against damaging sensitive environments as an alternative to restricting ATVs to roads and established trails.
As a former prosecutor for the Yukon government, in my opinion the proposed alternative would be virtually unenforceable and accordingly, completely ineffective.
The first problem I see is that the majority of reporting of offences by ATV riders will not be made by conservation officers Ã who are few and far between in the Yukon wilderness Ã but by other wilderness users.
These citizen witnesses might be able to record a description of a vehicle and rider, location, date, time and details of the offence, all required for even a charge to be laid, let alone a conviction obtained. It can hardly be expected, though, that these same citizens will be able to determine and collect evidence to prove damage was done by the off-trail rider.
The second flaw in the proposed alternative flows from the fact damage by off-road vehicles is, in many cases, not the result of one vehicle driving in an area, but of numerous vehicles driving in an area.
Each vehicle may only have an incremental impact, but the effect after many vehicles have driven over the same ground is substantial damage.
Under the proposed alternative, no rider could likely ever even be charged, let alone convicted.
The proposed alternative also does nothing to address the problem of off-road vehicles disturbing wildlife.
Regulation in this area is long-overdue.
Let’s hope the Yukon government sees fit to create a fair and effective set of rules.
The Yukon Off-Road Riders Association’s proposal, however, would be neither.