Trail bikers put rangers in danger

Tim EdmundsAlbany Advertiser
This rider was captured on Shelley Beach Road by a body worn camera on a ranger.
Camera IconThis rider was captured on Shelley Beach Road by a body worn camera on a ranger. Credit: DBCA

The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions has promised a crackdown on illegal trail bike riding in national parks after rangers and police were intentionally sprayed with dirt as they tried to stop a group of riders.

Parks and Wildlife Service rangers with body-worn cameras have begun investigating two recent incidents in the Torndirrup and West Cape Howe national parks in which they tried to intercept the riders.

The joint operation a fortnight ago involved four police officers and rangers who tried to stop the group of riders crossing Shelley Beach Road on a ride from Sandpatch to Bornholm DBCA Parks and Wildlife Service Albany district manager Peter Hartley said the issue had escalated recently to the point he feared for park rangers’ safety.

Mr Hartley said the riders posed a safety risk not only to rangers but to visitors enjoying nature walks in areas such as the Bibbulmun Track.

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He said environmental damage was also a growing concern, with riders using chainsaws to cut new tracks, damaging dunes and spreading dieback.

“It is anarchy — they will not stop and take instructions from a public officer,” he said. “Last weekend three of our staff tried to stop them and they turned around, opened the throttle and covered the officers with sand.

“People are there on nature walks and all they can hear is the noise of motorbikes. They are cutting up dunes and vegetation.

“It’s just out of control.”

Mr Hartley said in some instances riders had arrogantly ignored the directions of rangers, leading to police becoming involved in joint operations and the stance of now preferring charges over infringements. “I’m really worried about the safety of our rangers,” he said. “I think it’s only going to be a matter of time before one of them is assaulted.”

Albany police officer-in-charge Senior Sergeant Grant Pollard said the riders posed a risk to park- users and themselves.

“They don’t seem to be concerned with the impact they are having on the park,” he said.

“If they have an accident, they are in areas hard to access for emergency services and where there are communication issues putting themselves at extreme risk.”

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