Island farmers urge snowmobilers to stay off crops

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Island farmers urge snowmobilers to stay off crops

Some farmers on P.E.I. are urging people to use "a little bit of common sense" after reporting damage to their crops due to snowmobiles.

​Greg MacKenzie, owner of MacKenzie Produce in Stratford, says he has hibernating plants beneath the blanket of snow on his some of his land and that snowmobilers are driving off the trails and over those crops.

"Our plants are all in rows so we can see the tracks right down over the rows and damaged plants," he said.

"In the corner of the field they're kind of cutting tight and running over plants instead of going around. It's a big field here, there's about 60 acres ... so there's lot of space to go around them."

MacKenzie put some marking flags on his property but because snowmobilers keep riding over the crops, he said, he'll have to string along more caution flags and surveying tape to make sure riders can see where they shouldn't go. 

MacKenzie doesn't like hanging the signs up and restricting snowmobilers, he said — he'd rather just ask people to be a bit more aware of where they're driving when they're off the trails.

"I understand there hasn't been much snow and you have a sled, you want to get out and use it, but [use] a little bit of caution," MacKenzie said.

"It's like me taking my tractor in a subdivision and driving in people's front yards, it really wouldn't be that appreciated if we didn't ask for permission."

'A little bit of common sense'

​Matthew Compton owns Compton's Vegetable Stand in Summerside, P.E.I., and said some of his crops have also been damaged. 

"You can post no-trespassing signs but it's hardly a deterrent anymore," Compton said.

He's a snowmobiler himself and says sleds and ATVs have crossed his land, damaging some of his strawberry crops.

Like MacKenzie, Compton is sympathetic to the snowmobilers and asks people to use "a little bit of common sense" when they're out on this winter.

"Stick to the fence line, stick to the heavily-snowed areas where you're not going to create some damage," he said.

"I respect the machines and the snowmobiling community very much but if there's a thought in the back of your head that you shouldn't be there, then you probably shouldn't be there."

'One bad apple'

Dale Hickox, president of the P.E.I. Snowmobile Association, said his group is about "organized, well-disciplined snowmobiling" and that members stick to organized trails across the province.

"Our members don't do things like that … we at no time condone riding through private property," he said.

"One bad apple sure makes it bad for the rest, doesn't it? And that's what this likely is, one or two fools that decided to do something stupid and now it's a full-fledged problem."​

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