Wayne National Forest has issued a closure order for the Baileys Trails System, located in Athens County. The order is necessary for public safety during gun hunting season.
The closure will be in effect on Wayne National Forest lands on the following dates: Nov. 29 to Dec. 5 and Dec. 18 and Dec. 19. On these dates, the Baileys Trail System will be closed to bike riders. Foot traffic will still be allowed so that hunters may access the area.
“Hunting is an important conservation tool, and one way to help keep a healthy deer population in the Wayne National Forest,” said Wayne National Forest Supervisor Carrie Gilbert. “The Baileys has been a popular public hunting area for decades. Temporary closure to mountain bikers during deer gun season allows us to keep that traditional access open for hunters while decreasing possible unsafe recreation conflicts. In turn, hunters help keep white-tailed deer populations in check.”
Historically in Ohio, predators like wolves and mountain lions helped maintain deer populations at sustainable levels, and human hunters fill that role today.
Some negative environmental impacts of high deer populations include the following: overgrazing of native plants; decline or disappearance of plant species from parts of their range; starved, unhealthy deer; less food and/or shelter for other wild animals; changes to ecosystem structure; and collisions with road traffic.
The closure order and its accompanying map are available on the alerts and notices page of the Wayne National Forest’s website. An order violation is punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or imprisonment for not more than six months, or both.