Winter weather means that it is time for snowmobile season to begin.  And Central New York is a great place to snowmobile.  When all of the trails are open there are more than 650 miles of trails in Oneida County alone, making it a popular winter destination.

With that in mind Oneida County Sheriff Rob Maciol is encouraging riders to use extra caution when snowmobiling.

Maciol held his annual snowmobile safety kick-off news conference on Tuesday at the Lost Trails Snowmobile Club in Boonville.

Sheriff Maciol stressed the fact that nearly all of the  groomed snowmobile trails in the county are on private land, so riders must do all they can to respect the property owners including staying on the marked trails, slowing down near residential areas, and not littering.

On "WIBX First News with Keeler in the Morning" today Sheriff Rob Maciol said that they regularly receive two snowmobiling complaints more than any others.

The first is about modified mufflers on snowmobiles.  Sheriff Maciol says the noisy mufflers are a big problem, especially since many choose the late evening hours to snowmobile.  Their inconsideration for those sleeping on the properties bordering trails gives snowmobilers a bad reputation.

The second complaint regarding disrespect for landowners, many of whom have sensitive crops growing below layers of snow.  Although not visible, the crops are wintering and, when snowmobilers venture off trails onto what they see as "empty" land, they may be damaging crops hidden well below the surface.

Additionally snowmobilers who drive fast often get into accidents more than other, Maciol says, mentioned a personal experience where a friend of his who "drives fast in a car" ended up in the emergency room the first time he went on a trail.

Additionally he cautioned against blindly driving into and over snowbanks.  Snowbanks may form over obstacles that could prove dangerous, including barbed wire.

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