Each year, Maine Game Wardens interact with thousands of outdoor enthusiasts from trappers and anglers to ATV and snowmobile riders. As registration trends continue to increase and trail systems both increase and improve for ATVs, the amount of inspections will likely increase proportionally.
Game Wardens are essentially the front door for the Bureau of Warden Service and often provide the only opportunity for sportspeople to engage in conversations with an IF&W employee. Inspections are critical to the mission of the Warden Service for both public relations and enforcement purposes. Both share an equally important role for the future of the bureau.
Game Wardens regularly inspect ATVs for safety and registration compliance. Wardens also stop motor vehicles at fish and wildlife checkpoints used for gathering statistics and enforcing fish and wildlife laws. In addition, Game Wardens have authority to stop motor vehicles for violations observed on Maine’s highways.
A Game Warden may perform a stop of the above vehicles either by signaling you to stop with an obvious body gesture or with the use of emergency blue lights and/or siren. Game Wardens will make themselves known by identifying themselves while in uniform or by providing a badge or State law enforcement officer credential. When signaled to stop by a Game Warden please do the following:
Game Wardens prefer that each interaction with an outdoor enthusiast is a pleasant experience. Please be polite and courteous. Take advantage of the opportunity to ask the Game Warden for advice or valuable tips.
ATV registrations are clearly trending toward higher numbers. In 2003 there was a peak of over 66,000 registrations in Maine. With the exception of that year, ATV registrations have shown a steady increase since 1998. The registration trend can likely be attributed to both the ability of four-season riding and the continuing effort to make and maintain good quality ATV designated trails. Additionally, ATV models have become very user specific. Some are now equipped with tracks for snow, camouflage for hunting, and two or four passenger versions for longer, more comfortable trail riding.
A significant amount of effort has been placed on ATV law enforcement by Maine Game Wardens. Landowner complaints coupled with increasing registrations created a situation in the late 1990’s in which the Warden Service had to re-evaluate its law enforcement presence and approach regarding ATV’s. Many Game Wardens now have ATV’s issued to them to assist in patrol. Funding has been secured in recent years to pay for special enforcement details to help combat localized areas of complaints. These details allow Wardens to focus specifically on ATV issues and have become an important factor in reducing complaints from the public regarding ATV’s.
Trail systems have continued to grow and landowner cooperation is becoming easier for ATV clubs to use and maintain trail systems in many areas of Maine. The trails have provided a completely new adventure for the ATV rider, allowing clear access and hundreds of miles of riding opportunities. Game Wardens continue to respond to ATV crashes that involve either property damage, personal injury or in some cases death. Wardens are responsible for investigating ATV crashes to gather crash statistics and determine if violations of law have occurred that may have contributed to the crash. Drunk driving continues to be a contributing factor in many ATV rider fatalities. Always use good common sense, never operate beyond your abilities, and never drink and drive.
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.