Complaints by landowners are part of what prompted Dane County Sheriff's deputies to conduct special enforcement on the county’s snowmobile trails over the weekend.
Deputies said they made contact with about 50 snowmobilers and issued more than 20 warnings and about 10 citations. Violations included failure to stop at stop signs, registration issues, speeding after dark, not having a trail pass and not having safety certification.
Landowners had complained about some snowmobilers straying from the public trails and damaging farm fields, said Sgt. John Brogan, who patrols the county trails.
"Some of it might've had to do with the unfamiliarity of the trails from people coming in from out of town or out of state," Brogan said. "Dane County had the perfect situation where the weather conditions were just perfect to make some great snowmobile trail conditions."
The public trails closed Monday because of poor conditions. The Dane County Sheriff’s Office said, if the trails reopen, the enforcement effort will continue.
Some trails closed after December's blizzard when local landowners, who allow the trails to cut through their private property, grew frustrated with trespassing.
Duane Garfoot, a farmer near Mount Vernon, said snowmobile tracks were "all over his fields." Although he hasn't shut down the trails that go across his land, he's worried the traffic will damage his winter hay that lies below the snow.
"I really don't want to be that type of guy (who wants the trails closed)," Garfoot said. "I want to make sure everyone can have fun on it, but we're just looking for a little respect, too."
Deputies said it's hard to catch violators because there's only three of them and four snowmobiles to patrol miles and miles of country trails.
"The difference is this year we're going to spend more time on the trails and much more varying hours -- even late at night if we have to," Brogan said.