FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. – Whether it’s cute and fuzzy, sticky and slippery, or big and hairy, Fort Leonard Wood is teeming with wildlife. As summer approaches, the likelihood of human encounters with animals increases.
“Anyone who spends a nice summer day outdoors in Fort Leonard Wood has undoubtedly encountered their fair share of mosquitoes, ticks, songbirds and squirrels,” said Eric Magon, a police sergeant with the Division of Emergency Conservation Services Law Enforcement. “There are countless wild animals that are home to Fort Leonard Wood, as well as a variety of reptiles and amphibians.”
Wildlife protection is not limited to hunting or recycling rules and regulations; Knowing how to live alongside wildlife is also important.
Sick or injured wildlife
While the first instinct when seeing an injured or sick animal may be to help, Magon said it’s best to leave those cases to the experts. Any injured wildlife should be reported to the Vice Marshal’s Office at 573-596.6141.
Magon said trying to help could have consequences for humans and animals.
“It’s important that people don’t try to deal with or help the wildlife,” he said. “While someone’s intentions may be entirely out of concern, wildlife doesn’t understand it, and there is a good chance that wildlife is trying to defend itself as well as the risk of transmitting (a disease that can be transmitted to humans from animals).”
Magon said seeing a small animal alone might also seem to be a concern to a well-meaning human, but usually no action is needed.
“If the animal is impeding the flow of traffic or affecting military activities, the project management office should be notified,” he said. “If it is determined that an animal may need relocation, the PMO will send a game controller to relocate the wildlife. If not, the best thing you can do is leave it alone and give it plenty of space.”
Consequences of the intervention
It’s important to remember that all wildlife is protected or managed, according to Magon.
“Wildlife harassment is a violation of the Missouri Wildlife Act and may result in a quote being issued,” he said.
This includes protected domestic snakes, according to the Missouri Department of Environmental Conservation. The Missouri Wildlife Code treats snakes, lizards, and most turtles as non-game, meaning there is no hunting season – killing or otherwise harassing snakes is illegal.
Feeding wildlife is also dangerous to animals and humans alike. It could teach them to associate humans with food, Magon said, increasing the likelihood of an attack or bite and the spread of disease.
Bears at Fort Leonard Wood
According to the MDC, the black bear is the only bear found in Missouri, and one of the largest and heaviest mammals in the state. Most live south of Interstate 44, including Pulaski County, but they can be found further north from time to time. Sightings of bears are not unprecedented at Fort Leonard Wood.
For those who happened across a black bear during the install, Magoon had some advice.
“If you are on foot, it is important that you do not run,” he said. “Make yourself look as big as possible by extending your arms and making lots of loud noises.”
Magon said the chances of encountering a black bear could be reduced by securing any food or litter that should be stored outdoors, and by making a lot of noise while rebuilding outdoors.
The Movement for Democratic Change requested that all black bear sightings be reported On their website.
The first step in protecting and preserving wildlife is education, and Magon recommended taking some of the free lessons and webinars offered by MDC.
The United States has the most distinguished and successful conservation program in the world, Magon said, and we are fortunate to live in a place where wildlife and wild places are recognized as public resources — it takes effort in all parts to conserve the wilderness. Fun places for future generations.
“Without continued efforts and support from the public, this precious resource will be exploited and eventually disappear,” Magon said. “It is our duty to ensure that our wildlife and wild places are preserved, so that they can continue to be used.”