MARQUETTE — The Michigan DNR has conservation officers patrolling the western U.P. because of snowmobile noise violations reported throughout the winter.
Besides the risk of hearing loss, loud sleds also risk some unintended damage to the trail system.
Half of the state’s snowmobile trails are on private land. The only thing that keeps that land available for use is the cooperation of landowners.
“The newer stock snowmobiles are actually quite quiet,” DNR recreation specialist Ron Yesney said. “What really annoys (landowners) and what really angers them is when somebody comes through with a really loud modified snowmobile and wakes them up one night or ruins their day, and they really don’t want to hear that.”
Snowmobiles made since July 1980 must be no louder than 88 decibels when measured from 13 feet away. A ticket for violating the noise law will get you a fine of up to $250.
“From Marquette west, we’ve been having (patrols) at different locations,” DNR conservation officer Sgt. Ryan Aho said. “Basically, that’s because we have complaints from a real wide landscape. Everywhere that there’s a loud snowmobile, usually we have a complaint or a complainant.”
The DNR says many snowmobilers who think their machines are too noisy will ask for their sleds to be checked. What often sounds like a very loud sled will still meet the guideline with several decibels to spare.