Off-road vandals should be prosecuted, say officials

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The Nature Protection Board, which is responsible for environmental protection in Latvia, will ask the State Police to initiate criminal proceedings against off-road drivers who are ruining valuable natural habitats.

4x4s were recently photographed by environmental protection officers plowing up Ance swamp and forest nature reserve, causing huge damage for the sake of their petrol-headed pleasure.

The Nature Protection Board's Maija Rena said the off-roaders had damaged flora and fauna habitats and even damaged the flow of the nearby River Irbe as they repeatedly forded its banks.

Usually such actions have little consequence as the official policy is to "advise first", simply telling participants in such motorized vandalism that they are doing something wrong, on the assumption that they didn't know it already.

However, considering that this time the damage caused has been particularly serious and the organizer of the race took an aggressive attitude when informed of his infirngements, officials are preparing a document for the initiation of criminal proceedings for "destruction and damaging of specially protected nature territories".

Sadly, the incident is far from isolated with many owners of 4x4 vehicles unable to restrain their childish impulse to drive it up the nearest sand dune irrespective of the long-term environmental impact.

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