The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources has a new tool to reach some of the state’s most difficult terrain.
A DNR officer in Charleston County is field-testing a Pedego bike, donated by a dealership businessman Coker Day recently opened in Aiken.
“Coker has been involved with the Department of Natural Resources for a number of years,” DNR spokesman David Lucas said. “He sat on our marine advisory board for quite some time and he’s a big outdoors guy and sportsman and offshore fisherman.”
Day’s cousin Lance Cpl. Jeff Day is a DNR officer in Charleston County who is testing the bike. The Pedgeo company offers donated bikes for worthy recipients and Coker Day applied for DNR to receive one.
“They’re extremely popular these days,” Lucas said of the bikes with a lithium-ion battery for pedal-assist. “They’re sort of all the rage.”
A normal-use bike on an overnight charge can go up to 60 miles, if the rider is pedaling more than using the battery. It charges on a regular outlet and costs about 10 cents per charge.
“We really appreciate the donation,” Lucas said.
Depending on features, the bikes range from $1,200 -$6,000. Lucas said the new DNR model is a Trail Tracker off-road fat tire bike that’s in the $3,500-$4,000 price range.
“The Pedego is just a way for an officer to be able to cover a lot of ground and do it quietly,” Lucas said. He added an officer may need stealth to find someone who may be hunting or fishing illegally.
“If you have somebody who’s looking to evade the license-check guy he’s not going to notice a bicycle coming up the beach as quickly as he’s going to notice a big DNR truck or an ATV with blue lights on so they may not have the chance to run away,” he said.
Lance Cpl. Day described a recent case that involved him tracking down a hunter illegally shooting deer on Dungannon Heritage Preserve at night using an infrared spotlight and crossbow. The man was himself using a bicycle to access the property to avoid detection. Officer Day left his truck at the gate and hiked in more than a mile through the woods on multiple occasions to track and catch the man in the act, knowing that the lights and sound from his truck or ATV would give the hunter a chance to run.
The bikes also are more convenient to load onto a boat to access some of the of DNR’s Wildlife Management Areas that are remote islands.
“It’s very time-consuming to try to load up an ATV or something on a boat,” Lucas said. “Whereas the bike, you can pull it off the back of a truck, stick it in the boat and go and then you’ve got a vehicle that can carry you around the island if you need to do that.”
“Once the community sees the benefits of the Trail Tracker in use in some of our beautiful natural regions, maybe it will inspire them to try an electric bike themselves,” Coker Day said.