David Thompson Snow Riders are asking snowmobilers to ride responsibly this winter, and to do so by staying away from grain bags.
Riding on the bags — which are situated in farmers’ fields, and resemble long, white tubes — can be destructive to them, and can land riders with hefty punishments.
Trail co-ordinator Gerry Hansen said those guilty of doing so may face criminal charges of up to 10 years in prison.
He hopes that increased awareness, however, will prevent the need for such punishments.
“I think a lot of it is the younger kids, and they’re just out to have fun,” he said. “They just see drifts up alongside of it, and don’t realize that they’re doing any damage.”
Damage inflicted by snowmobiles can cause a major headache for farmers, who often have to deal with grain spills and hungry deer.
Torn bags also cause an increase in manual labour for farmers, whose machines are unable to pick up the fallen grain.
“It’s a big deal,” said Hansen.
Many farmers are generous about letting riders use their land, and must be respected, he added.
“Most of them are very co-operative, until stuff like this starts happening.”
Continued riding on grain bags would likely see the installation of ‘no trespassing’ signs, and result in the loss of riding privileges, along with potential criminal charges.
Hansen hopes parents will inform their children of the dangers of riding on the bags, which are more present this year than in recent years.
“There was so much grain out this year, and the crops were good, but people didn’t have enough granaries to put it in, so a lot of them have bags out in the field now,” he said. “They’re way more abundant this year.”
Snow Riders will hold their next snowmobile rally on Jan. 12. For more information, contact Hansen at 403-350-9998, or Clint Bromling at 403-392-3424.