NDA Members on the Fence Regarding E-Bike Use

May 26, 2020 | by National Deer Alliance

Electronic bicycles, or e-bikes, are becoming increasingly popular both on and off-road. But, their quick rise in popularity has resulted in a variety of state and federal regulations – specifically regarding use on public lands. Certainly, e-bikes can be an efficient and effective tool for accessing prime hunting locations, but some debate the use of e-bikes on wild public lands. In a recent edition of our On Watch Newsletter, we asked National Deer Alliance (NDA) members to take our Hunter’s Voice survey to answer a few questions regarding e-bikes. Here’s what they had to say:

Just over half (56%) of responding members said they support the use of e-bikes for hunting or recreational purposes on public lands. 17% were unsure. For those who support the use of e-bikes, a recurring theme was that e-bikes could provide access to hunters who typically wouldn’t be able to hunt certain areas, such as the disabled or elderly.

“I think this should be a case-by-case basis. I would recommend that hunters with disabilities or over a certain age should be able to use them,” said Adam from Connecticut. “If we keep the goal in mind that we want people to get out and appreciate nature and/or keep doing something they love, we should try and promote those ideas/innovations.”

Still, others were concerned about the impacts that e-bikes could have on the environment and the overall hunting experience. “I am ok with them as long as they are used within the rules and guidelines set forth by the land management agency regarding accessible and open roads,” said Orrin from New Mexico. “If they are used to go off trail, then I am against it.”

“We are faced with how much technology should be used when hunting.  This is just one more very cool technology the erodes the overall hunting experience,” Kim from Wisconsin said. “There is too much emphasis on killing, and we are forgetting about the hunting experience.”

Overall, e-bikes have yet to catch-on with NDA members and the areas they hunt. 75% of responding members do not use an e-bike while hunting, and 76% have not seen someone else using an e-bike in their hunting area. Just over 2% of respondents do use an e-bike for hunting.

Regulations for use of e-bikes on certain public lands vary from state to state, and in some cases, the regulations aren’t clear regarding e-bike usage. We asked NDA members if they would consider using an e-bike for hunting if legal to do so where they hunt. About 58% said that they would consider using an e-bike for hunting if legal to do so where they hunt, while about 48% said they would not.

For those that would consider using an e-bike for hunting, ease of access – including reduced scent and noise – were prominent considerations. Age was another recurring consideration.

As Paul from Vermont put it, using an e-bike for hunting “would make getting old easier.”

For those that don’t have an interest in using an e-bike, the cost of purchasing one and the overall hunting experience were the two biggest concerns. “The cost of one needs to drastically be reduced,” said John from Illinois. “These are way, way, way too expensive for the average hunter.”

“I usually prefer to walk. It's good exercise and it allows time to enjoy the outdoors,” Gene from Louisiana said. “When riding an ATV or even an e-bike, you miss so much of what is around you.”

Keep your eyes on your inboxes, or subscribe to our Newsletter if you haven’t already, to participate in our next Hunter’s Voice survey. You could be featured in a future article for NDA’s On Watch Newsletter!