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Conservation authorities issue plea for deviant off-roaders to come forward: 'Hugely disappointing'

"Everything is suffering."

"Everything is suffering."

Photo Credit: Department of Conservation

An unauthorized quad-bike rally in New Zealand drew the ire of conservationists after a walking track was left heavily damaged.

Mountain bikes and quad bikes are not allowed at the Bealey Spur Track in Canterbury, but that didn't deter a group of eight quad riders from treating the popular natural spot as their personal off-road course.

As 1News detailed, around 6,000 New Zealand dollars ($3,650) worth of damage was caused, with boardwalks and vegetation taking the brunt of it. The bikers also left a trail of empty alcohol cans behind. 

The Department of Conservation's warranted officer Lorna Luciani told the outlet that "everything is suffering" in the area — which leads partially into Arthur's Pass National Park — and that it was "hugely disappointing to see such behavior at a treasured area of natural beauty." 

"Repairing this damage takes our staff away from other critical conservation work, and it's pretty frustrating for them to see their previous effort and commitment on the job trashed by careless people," Luciani added, noting "considerable damage" had been caused to native plants and wetlands.

"Many live tree roots on and next to the track were broken or had a ring of bark removed, and corduroy logs used to protect boggy areas from foot traffic have been uprooted," Luciani continued.

The bikers have been asked to come forward, and a maximum fine of $800 might await them. 

While this will ruin a trip to a stunning natural area for locals and tourists alike, the environmental damage is also seriously disheartening.

The destruction of native plants will harm the local ecosystem, as they typically support several animal species as food sources and shelter. 

Meanwhile, the litter was just an extra slap in the face after an already disrespectful activity. If not disposed of appropriately, those cans would take years to degrade and would put animals at risk while they do. If small pieces break off the cans, animals might mistake them for food and ingest them, leading to potential health problems or even death

To make things worse, the quad bikes would likely have been powered by dirty fuel, spewing harmful pollutants into an area that would typically not have to deal with reduced air quality from exhaust fumes.

Areas like Bealey Spur Track should be protected, and anyone who has hiked in the area will have felt a connection to the natural world around them. The quad bikers wouldn't have realized what they were missing when zipping through the park at high speeds, and perhaps a slower walk would have made them think twice about causing such destruction. 

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