Dealing with Four Wheel Trespassers

Dealing with Four Wheel Trespassers
By: Arnold Wyrick
Franklin County, IL - If you wanted to go hunting or fishing on George Slankard's land in Franklin County, all you had to do was ask. And 99% of the time the answer was yes.
But that was before four wheelers began invading his property a couple of years ago. Now Slankard's going to put the brakes on their invasion.
"It's just gone to pot. And then the four wheelers took over, and they've absolutely trashed it," says George Slankard of Valier.
"It was a good place to have a picnic, a lot of shade, the fishing wasn't too bad. But those folks were taking care of it. When this element took over, they've ruined it, it's a mess now."
Slankard's even more concerned that an incident like what happened over the past weekend could end up costing him a lot more then an aggravation with recreational vehicles tearing up his land.
"What got me so excited was the liability. If that fellow on Saturday night had run into a tree. No matter whether he was drunk or sober, and killed himself, someone would've wanted to sue me," Slankard said.
"I've worked hard for what I've got. And I don't want to lose it to someone who is illegally trespassing on my property."
The four wheelers damage can also be seen along the railroad tracks running through Slankard's property. Deeply gouged ruts cover the slopes of the railway bed leading down onto Slankard's land. And the nuisance isn't only being felt by the Slankard's, folks in Valier are also being affected the noise.
"They take those four wheelers and ride all over there. They come out and put up a stop sign at the end of our road leading out of here. It doesn't mean a thing, they just go right on through it. And they're squealing their tires, and revving it up. It's annoying, sometimes you can't hear the television, because they're making so much noise as they go by," says Ellen Scaggs of Valier.
The Franklin County Sheriff is well aware of the problem. And he's trying to figure out how to put a stop to it.
"I don't have enough deputies to patrol every entrance and exit out of the woods. Plus it's going to be difficult to identify who they are, unless you're right there when they come riding out. And still we've got to catch them. You can't do that in a squad car. But we are going to increase our patrols in the area. And if I have to I'll call upon the State Police to help," says Sheriff Bill Wilson.
Meanwhile Slankard's got his own ideas on how he'll go about stopping the illegal riding on his property. And he's got a proposal for lawmakers on how to better control who is riding one of the vehicles.
"They should be licensed and insured. It's come the time when someone should do something about it. Either legalize them or outlaw them, one or the other."