KODIAK (AP) To protect salmon streams from damage by all-terrain vehicles, the Kodiak Island Borough is turning to Lester Lightfoot.
The cartoon fox was created by artist and retired teacher Stacy Studebaker with help from graphic artist Janelle Peterson. It will appear on a brochure put out by the borough.
Animals often can deliver a message more effectively than humans, Studebaker told the Kodiak Daily Mirror, and can deliver messages in a friendlier way than an authoritarian figure. Smokey the Bear is a classic example.
Everybody knows his message about preventing forest fires,'' she said.
Lester Lightfoot wears calf-high rubber boots, a red bandanna and a baseball cap. His motto is, We are known by the tracks we leave.''
Studebaker chose a fox because it's an animal that people regard as smart and handsome, she said.
I gave him the red, white and blue look because I wanted him to be subtly all-American.''
Studebaker is part of an ATV stakeholder committee formed to deal with conflicts between hikers and motorized recreational vehicle users. The committee determined that four-wheeler abuse of the land is due to lack of education.
The biggest concern is people with four wheelers and motorcycles riding them in salmon streams. That's against the law, which is what the brochure is all about, she said.
Operating a motorized vehicle in anadromous streams or riverbeds, along gravel banks and lake shores, unless at designated or posted crossings, is illegal without a permit from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. It is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail or a fine of up to $10,000.
People riding up the middle of the stream bed may crush young salmon and eggs, Studebaker said. Salmon deposit their eggs in indentations in the stream, and when people ride vehicles up and down the stream bed, the indentations flatten out.
The brochure's message is that protecting salmon habitat equals good fishing forever.
Studebaker's foxy spokesman was also adopted as the mascot for Alaska Trails, a new nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing trails in the state.
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