Sledding the County - Snowmobile Enforcement

Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 7:24 PM EST
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Snowmobiling the trails of Northern Maine can be thrilling but for the Maine Warden Service nothing is more important than rider safety. NewsSource8′s Brian Bouchard has this week’s Sledding the county.

“Snowmobiling is a fun, family sport, for all ages, it’s a great sport, but it’s everybody’s responsibility to ensure that snowmobiling is safe”

Maine Warden Service Sergeant Mike Joy talks about the importance of snowmobile safety from a Snowmobile enforcement checkpoint in Caribou. The Maine Warden service had 23 wardens on the trails this week, in 4 different groups ensuring riders were doing the right thing.

“The biggest thing is to make sure people are riding safely but there’s also a lot of education. We’ve had some complaints this year and it’s the same message we put out every year, Ride Right Ride Safe. We want to do our part to ensure snowmobiling stays a safe sport.”

So far this year there have been multiple snowmobile fatalities with operator inattention or indifference playing a factor. Joy recalls an accident that occurred a couple of weeks ago on a logging road in T8 R6, just south of Oxbow.

“Some of them are plowed because of the cutting practices right now and the land owners allow the snowmobile trails still to be active. So it’s a plowed active logging road and those areas are posted for riders to slow down and at the access roads, trails to the roads and stop signs snowmobilers are not stopping and excess unsafe speed on those plowed logging roads that log trucks are using. It’s already proved fatal this year.”

In addition to ensuring snowmobilers ride right and ride safe, Joy says they’re also looking for riders operating under the influence.

“We aggressively enforce snowmobile OUI enforcement by patrols, trail checks and so forth.”

While we were conducting our interview, a group of riders were stopped due to the presence of a modified exhaust which is illegal in the state.

“A lot of the trails up here go through a residential neighborhood. Fort Kent, the heritage trail, downtown Caribou, Presque Isle, Washburn and the excessive noise if you will, we get a lot of complaints, and there’s people that threaten to shut trails down so in the course of doing snowmobile patrols we actively enforce the modified exhaust due to the noise complaints that we receive.”

Joy says doing checkpoints like this one, lets the community know that the Wardens are out and about, keeping the trails safe for all riders.

Brian Bouchard, NewsSource8