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The saga of the snowmobile

Tracking snowmobilers who ride illegally on private property

Published: Friday, Feb. 14, 2014 1:06 p.m. CST • Updated: Friday, Feb. 14, 2014 1:11 p.m. CST

MALDEN —  A Malden resident recently reported a snowmobiler had driven through her yard late at night, about 5 feet from her front door.

The resident didn’t know the snowmobiler and had not given permission for the rider to pass through her property. The incident was not only alarming for the resident, but it caused concern as she has a propane tank sitting in her yard and a power line that leads to a guide wire in her yard.

Thinking about all the negatives consequences of what could have gone wrong if the rider had ridden into danger, the resident decided to file a report on the person responsible for the act.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources Officer Scott Wright confirmed it’s illegal for snowmobilers to ride on private property without permission of the landowner. If a snowmobiler is riding on private property and apprehended, the violator could face a Class C misdemeanor, which carriers a possible punishment of paying a $1,500 fine, or in a worse case scenario, 30 days in jail.

Wright said there have been times where he’s had calls similar to the one that came from Malden, however, most of the violations that he sees through his office are for not having proper registration or insurance. Snowmobiles have to be re-registered every three years, Wright said.

While it seems like snowmobilers sometimes operate these vehicles where they wish, there are actually very limited places where it’s legal to ride. They may ride on public roads, but they must follow the correct direction of traffic and ride in the ditches.

According to Dave Hahne, who is the site superintendent at the Hennepin Canal Parkway, many flock to ride the trails at the park. He said this year there have been an abundance of snowmobilers due to the longer winter and more snow than usual.

Hahne admitted many riders tend to venture off the trails, which is expected. The No. 1 rule at the canal is for snowmobilers to ride at their own risk on the ice. Hahne said in past winters, the ice has been thin in spots, and snowmobilers have fallen through. While there hasn’t been a case of that yet this year, Hahne said it’s still a rule that riders should follow directions and take extra caution.

There is a page on the IDNR website giving a complete list of information snowmobilers should read before riding. The page can be found at http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/recreation/snowmobile/.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

Smowmobile accidents during winter 2012-2013

According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, there were 34 snowmobile-related accidents last winter. The DNR classifies the accidents in three categories: Fatal, major and minor. The breakdown for last year's accidents included three fatal accidents, 14 major accidents and 17 minor accidents. Of those 34 accidents, 28 of the riders injured were males and the rest were females. The ages of the victims ranged from 8 to 59 years old. McHenry County posted the most accidents in the state (8), followed by Lake and DeKalb counties (6 each). Henry County had three accidents, follwed by Stephenson, Kane and Whiteside, which each posted two. Saline, Winnebago, Rock Island, LaSalle and Will counties each posted one. The fatals were recorded in Stephenson, DeKalb and Rock Island counties. No accidents were record in Bureau or Putnam counties. Of the 34 accidents, drugs and/or alcohol were listed as a factor in 13 of the accidents, including two of the three fatals. The IDNR also clarifies where the accidents occurred. During this season, the 34 accidents happened on public trails/roads/land (9); backyard (1); river (2); lake (6); private field/land (8); roadway (1); right of way (6); and railroad tracks (1).

Did you know?

Effective April 1, 2011, the Snowmobile Registration and Safety Act was amended by Public Act 096-1291 to: • Increase the snowmobile registration fee to $30 for new snowmobile registrations, transfer renewals and renewals. Old registration application forms will be accepted as long as the new fee is remitted. Duplicate registration cards, corrected registration cards and duplicate decals will remain $1. • Require a non-resident to purchase a yearly snowmobile trail use sticker if the snowmobile is not registered in Illinois. The fee for a snowmobile trail use sticker is $25 for a person who is not a resident of this State and who operates a snowmobile within this state, if such snowmobile is not registered in Illinois. Trail passes are available at license vendors throughout the state. Require liability insurance: Other than a person operating a snowmobile on their own property that is not a posted snowmobile trail, and other than a person operating a snowmobile on property other than a posted snowmobile trail in which the owner of the property has given permission to operate a snowmobile on the property, no person shall operate, register or maintain registration of a snowmobile unless the snowmobile is covered by a liability insurance policy, pursuant to Section 7-203 of the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/7‑203). Proof of insurance as required by this section shall be produced and displayed by the owner or operator of the snowmobile upon request to any law enforcement officer or to any person who has suffered or claims to have suffered either personal injury or property damage as a result of the operation of the snowmobile by the owner or operator. Snowmobile accidents for Winter 2012-13 According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, there were 34 snowmobile-related accidents last winter. The DNR classifies the accidents in three categories: Fatal, major and minor. The breakdown for last year's accidents included three fatal accidents, 14 major accidents and 17 minor accidents. Of those 34 accidents, 28 of the riders injured were males and the rest were females. The ages of the victims ranged from 8 to 59 years old. McHenry County posted the most accidents in the state (8), followed by Lake and DeKalb counties (6 each). Henry County had three accidents, follwed by Stephenson, Kane and Whiteside, which each posted two. Saline, Winnebago, Rock Island, LaSalle and Will counties each posted one. The fatals were recorded in Stephenson, DeKalb and Rock Island counties. No accidents were record in Bureau or Putnam counties. Of the 34 accidents, drugs and/or alcohol were listed as a factor in 13 of the accidents, including two of the three fatals. The IDNR also clarifies where the accidents occurred. During this season, the 34 accidents happened on public trails/roads/land (9); backyard (1); river (2); lake (6); private field/land (8); roadway (1); right of way (6); and railroad tracks (1).

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