ATV/UTV Riders: Think Smart Before You Start During Gun Deer Season

Hunters Reminded To Ride Safely When Using ATVs/UTVs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Nov. 19, 2021
Contact: DNR Office of Communications
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The DNR reminds hunters to ride safely when using ATVs and UTVs during their hunt this year. / Photo Credit: iStock/bernardbodo

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds hunters to ride safely when using all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and utility-terrain vehicles (UTVs) during their hunt this year.

Since January 2021, 41 people have died in ATV and UTV-related crashes. Most of the incidents involved people not wearing a helmet or seat belt. There were 38 fatal crashes in 2020.

Hunters using ATVs or UTVs to retrieve harvests or travel off-road to hunting locations should take life-saving precautions such as wearing a helmet and buckling up. Most hunting incidents involving ATVs or UTVs often occur on private lands and are linked by common factors.

"ATVs and UTVs are powerful and potentially dangerous vehicles. Oftentimes, accidents happen by simply going too fast for conditions, not judging the curve correctly or not knowing the terrain," said Lt. Martin Stone, DNR Conservation Warden and Off-Highway Vehicle Administrator. "Safety is part of the fun. Please ride responsibly."

ATV riders at least 12 years old and born after Jan. 1, 1988 must complete a course before operating an ATV on public trails and areas in Wisconsin. UTV operators must be at least age 16.

Complete an ATV safety course either in classroom or online by signing up here.

ATV/UTV Tips For A Safe Ride:

  • Don't drink and ride.
  • Slow down.
  • Some terrain in Wisconsin is too steep for ATV/UTVs. Traverse hills with caution.
  • Display registration ID number on a rear plate for all ATVs and UTVs registered for public use.
  • Always wear a Department of Transportation (DOT)-approved helmet. Hunters are more likely to come across low hanging branches or uneven terrain. Serious injuries and death can occur even at low speeds.
  • Just as with other vehicles, long guns and bows/crossbows must be fully unloaded before transporting them in or on an ATV or UTV.
  • Do not operate in or around waterways or wetlands. ATVs and UTVs are only allowed to cross waterways at bridges, roads or legal fords. Machine use in these areas is illegal and causes serious habitat damage that is very costly to repair.


Hunters using ATV and UTVs can also help protect natural areas by removing mud, dirt and any vegetation from vehicles prior to traveling as they can easily transport invasive plant species or seeds that are harmful to local habitats.

For more information on ATV/UTV laws visit the DNR's ATV/UTV Riding In Wisconsin webpage. 

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Burnett County Update - Fall Riding Season

OUR FALL RIDING SEASON BEGINS THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 16!

(Please read all information below)

Beginning Thursday, September 16, State-funded trails will be CLOSED. HOWEVER, from September 16 through November 30 the Burnett County Forest woods trails and forest roads are open for ATV/UTV use. What this means is that you can ride your registered ATV/UTV on any woods trail, snowmobile trail, and ATV trail that is located on County Forest Lands and is not bermed, gated, or signed as closed; and is at least eight feet wide. (A good rule of thumb is that if you can drive a truck down the trail, then you can take your ATV/UTV down it.) No off-trail use is allowed and operation on private lands is illegal unless you have permission from the private landowner.

It is very important to note that all of these trails are currently multi-use trails. This means that ANY street legal, licensed vehicle can use these trails during this time, (cars or trucks for example). It's also important to note that these trails are no longer being maintained during this time of year. For these reasons, the State-Funded Summer Use ATV Trail System is officially closed, even though you can still ride the majority of these same trails because they are located on County Forest Lands and township roads that currently allow for the use of ATV/UTVs during this time of year.

Remember, it is illegal to ride your ATV/UTV on the Gandy Dancer Trail in Burnett County south of Highway 77 at this time of year.

USE CAUTION:

Use caution and look for signage regarding timber sale activity. Trucks may be crossing trails.

All ATVs and UTVs must display either a Wisconsin registration or an ATV trail pass to ride on our trails. Only machines meeting the state definition of an ATV/UTV are allowed on these trails. Please follow this link for the state definitions and registration/pass information.

Some township ordinances allow for ATV/UTV use of the town roads and others do NOT allow it. It is the rider's responsibility to contact the township in which you plan to ride in and get the current rules pertaining to ATVs/UTVs and the town roads. Please follow this link for contact information for the individual townships for their rules and regulations.

NO OFF TRAIL USE IS ALLOWED - Please stay on the trails. Much of our trail system is on private land, and we appreciate the easements granted by our generous land owners. It only takes one person to have the entire trail system shut down.

Caution: Trail maintenance vehicles may be on the trails at any time.

It is your responsibility to know where you are and whose property you are on. Please be careful, be respectful to other trail users, and ride safely.

To contact Burnett County Forest & Parks, please visit their website at www.burnettcounty.com/trails.

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Osseo Area Dusty Riders Receives Yamaha Outdoor Access Grant

Osseo Area Dusty Riders

Brad Van Schoyck, President
608-963-6975
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Osseo, WI---August 2, 2021—The Osseo Area Dusty Riders is pleased to announce it has received a Yamaha Outdoor Access Initiative grant of $15,000 for resurfacing a one mile portion of the Buffalo River ATV/UTV Trail. The grant was awarded as part of Yamaha's Outdoor Access Initiative promoting safe responsible riding and open sustainable riding areas.

The Osseo Area Dusty Riders identified a three mile section of the Buffalo River Trail located in Garfield Township near Fairchild, WI, that needed resurfacing due to erosion and extremely rough riding due to the undulating surface. Improvements to the trail include grading and compacting, addition of 4 inches of ¾ inch rock and 4 inches of road gravel applied through a paver. According to President Brad Van Schoyck, the cost of the entire project will be $150,000.00 and will need to be completed in phases. The first phase will be completed this year.

President Van Schoyck stated that the project has been a community effort. " In addition to the funds provided by the Yamaha Grant, The Osseo Area Dusty Riders have received a second grant from Polaris, have raised funds through club activities, and have received donations from local business and private club members. We know that we have a lot of work ahead, but we have raised almost $50,000.00 to complete Phase I. We have been working with local townships, Trempealeau County and the State of Wisconsin to assure that the project meets the recognized standards for trail riding."

Local businesses located along the Buffalo River Trail have been impacted by rough trail conditions that have deterred many riders from using the trail. The trail is an important conduit in the ATV/UTV Trail System, as it connects the eastern counties of Buffalo, Trempealeau, and Eau Claire Counties, with the western counties of Jackson and Clark. In addition to the economic impact the trail has on the area, it also offers opportunities for trail riders to access new destinations.

The mission of the Osseo Area Dusty Riders is to provide a positive experience for all ATV/UTV riders who utilize the trails that their organization has adopted. The organization will maintain the trail system, develop and share maps, promote safety and education programs, and provide a conduit of communication between fellow ATV/UTV clubs, government entities, and the general public. Furthermore, the Osseo Area Dusty Riders recognizes areas of need in their community and will support these needs with charitable donations.
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WIDNR: Ride Responsibly This Holiday Weekend

17 Fatal ATV/UTV Crashes So Far In 2021 
It is the responsibility of all ATV and UTV operators to make the sport a safe one. Brush up on safety tips before heading out for the holiday weekend. / Photo Credit: iStock/wundervisuals

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is asking ATV and UTV operators to ride safely this Fourth of July weekend.

When out with family and friends for off-road rides and adventures, wearing a helmet and seat belt, monitoring speed and brushing up on safety best practices could save your life.

So far this year, 17 people have died in ATV/UTV crashes. Of the 5 fatal UTV crash victims, none were wearing helmets and 4 of 5 did not wear seat belts. Of the 12 fatal ATV crash victims, 10 were not wearing helmets.

"The Fourth of July holiday weekend is often a busy time on our trails and road routes," said Lt. Martin R. Stone, DNR Off-Highway Vehicle Administrator. "This year, 12 of the 17 fatal crashes so far occurred on public roads or routes. We want everyone to stay safe out there; familiarizing yourself with ATV-UTV laws and safe operation practices is a must before you head out."

SAFETY TIPS & SAFETY COURSE

When used safely, ATVs and UTVs provide fun, family recreation and are a valuable tool for working or exploring the outdoors. However, these vehicles are powerful and can be dangerous and even fatal. It is the responsibility of all ATV and UTV operators to make the sport a safe one.

Follow these tips for a safe ride: 

  • Never consume alcohol or drugs before or during your ride.
  • Wear a seat belt and a Department of Transportation (DOT)-approved helmet.
  • In addition to a seat belt and helmet, wear protective clothing such as eye protection, gloves, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt.
  • Keep your speed in check for the terrain, visibility conditions and your experience.
  • Remember that some terrain in Wisconsin is too steep for ATV/UTVs. Please be careful while traversing hills or uneven terrain.
  • Know before you go. Review all ATV/UTV laws here.

One of the best things ATV and UTV operators can do to operate safely is to take an online safety course. A list of approved safety education classes is available on the DNR Safety Education webpage.

ATV and UTV operators born on or after Jan. 1, 1988, who are at least 12 years old for an ATV (and at least 16 years old for UTV) must complete an ATV safety certification course to operate in Wisconsin (exception: on private property owned by operator's immediate family).

Wisconsin law requires every operator involved in a crash incident to report the incident without delay to law enforcement officials. In addition, within 10 days of the incident, the operator must submit a written report to the DNR.

For more information on ATV and UTV recreation in Wisconsin, visit the DNR's website.

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Burnett County: Summer ATV / UTV Trails Are Currently Open

During the summer season, (which runs through September 15), you may operate your ATV/UTV on State-funded Summer-Use Trails ONLY. Summer-Use Trails are designated with a WHITE blazer.

It is illegal to ride ATVs & UTVs on the Gandy Dancer Trail south of Hwy 77 in Burnett County during this time of year.

All ATVs and UTVs must display either a Wisconsin registration or an ATV trail pass to ride on our trails. Only machines meeting the state definition of an ATV/UTV are allowed on these trails. Please visit the Wisconsin DNR website for more information.

Trails will close in the event of a Red Flag Alert due to fire danger. Always check back for updated information before riding.

Use caution and look for signage regarding timber sale activity. Trucks may be crossing or using trails.

Some township ordinances allow for ATV/UTV use of the town roads and others do NOT allow it. It is the rider's responsibility to contact the township in which you plan to ride in and get the current rules pertaining to ATVs/UTVs and the town roads. Please contact the individual townships for their rules and regulations.

NO OFF TRAIL USE IS ALLOWED. Please stay on designated trails.

Caution: Trail maintenance vehicles may be on the trails at any time.

It is your responsibility to know where you are and whose property you are on. Please be careful, be respectful to other trail users, and ride safely.

Contact Information

If you need any maps, or if you need any other information, please contact Burnett County Tourism at 1-800-788-3164 or feel free to email them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To contact Burnett County Forest & Parks, please visit their website at www.burnettcounty.com/trails.

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