By Guest Author Senior Conservation Officer Julie Lininger, Idaho Department of Fish and Game. This article was originally published in Idaho game Warden Magazine Fall/Winter, 2018.
When people think about the equipment an Idaho conservation officer uses they routinely think truck, ATV, boat, rifle, pistol, waders, boots, etc. Rarely do they think of mountain bikes. However, some officers prefer the silent and quick approach of mountain bikes. In non-motorized areas, mountain bikes can be the best mode of transportation for officers. In southern Idaho conservation officers use mountain bikes to check Boise River anglers along the Boise River Greenbelt. In North Idaho, conservation officers use bikes to check anglers fishing the various north Idaho lakes from Rails to Trails bike paths (like the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes). In remote areas, conservation officers use mountain bikes to quietly approach illegal bait/salt sites to catch illegal hunting activity.
The majority of the time conservation officers use their personal mountain bikes for patrol. However, some companies like QuietKat have donated or deeply discounted mountain bikes to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game enforcement program for conservation officers to use. The QuietKat company makes electric mountain bikes which allow officers to get into some pretty rugged terrain a lot quicker than utilizing a standard mountain bike.
I was fortunate enough to borrow a QuietKat electric bike that was donated to conservation officers in Region 2 for a couple of weeks in September 2017. Being that it was my first time on an electric bike I was impressed with the power, durability, and toughness of the bike. I rode in five miles on a steep rugged ATV trail to an illegal bait site undetected. However, that wasn’t the highlight of my two weeks with the electric bike.
Electric bikes go where helicopters can't
During Labor Day weekend I was dispatched out to a remote trail in the St. Joe National Forest that goes up to St. Joe Lake. A woman was badly injured from a horse wreck. Life Flight helicopters were requested but Life Flight advised they could not fly in the area due to the smoky conditions from nearby wildfires. Medical personnel and equipment needed to get to the injured woman quickly and she needed to be brought out of the backcountry as soon as possible. Thankfully I was in the area and the QuietKat electric bike was with me in the back of my truck at the time I was dispatched. Upon reaching the trailhead (non-motorized trail only accessible by horses and hikers) the electric bike was rigged up in no time with a backboard, collapsible litter, AED, EMS bag, C-collar, oxygen tank, and some extra trauma gear. The bike maneuvered up the rugged horse trail with multiple creek crossings to the injured woman surprisingly quickly and efficiently despite the heavy load of gear.
The injured woman was taken safely out of the backcountry and treated for her injuries. Last I heard the horse survived the horse wreck too.
Conservation officers greatly appreciate the generous donations that companies like QuietKat give to the Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game enforcement bureau. The QuietKat electric bike has been used to make poaching cases and has been used for public safety/EMS responses as well.