PARK FALLS, Wis. (WFRV) – The United States Forest Service and the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest team(CNNF) are urging winter goers to keep themselves and the surrounding wildlife safe this season.

Winter in Wisconsin features a number of opportunities to get out and connect with nature through a variety of activities. After recent snowfalls, more winter recreationists are getting out to take advantage of excellent conditions for skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing.

The Moquah Barrens in Bayfield County has reportedly seen an increase in doing these activities off-trail or off-road, which is prohibited.

Staying on the designated trails not only helps to keep riders safe, but it helps protect sensitive wildlife species, their habitats, and other natural resources.

When snowmobiles operate off-trail in places like the Moquah Barrens, on the surface it may seem fine, but on closer inspection, we find that the noise and disturbance caused by these machines can be detrimental to the many wildlife species that are using these areas to survive harsh winter weather.

Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest Biologist, Brian Heeringa

Heeringa also said that disturbing these areas not only destroys these habitats but also creates trails for predators to allow them to get into difficult-to-reach areas, preying on the species more easily.

The CNNF team manages more than 800 miles of snowmobile trails. Snowmobiles are allowed on trail routes and on unplowed open roads when snow accumulations exceed four inches or more.

Those participating in these activities are reminded to stay on the designated trails, follow the normal “rules of the road,” and have a travel plan in place before they head out.

For more information, please refer to the following resources.