Local

November 21, 2012

The Fort Irwin desert and it’s magnificent wildlife

Ask most people to describe their impressions of a desert and they will likely answer, “It’s a place where almost nothing can live.” The truth is that the number of different species of plants and animals in the Mojave Desert is much greater than many of the iconic scenic areas in California, including old growth redwood forests, coastal bluffs, and picturesque meadows in the Sierra Nevada.

The Mojave Desert is home to a wide variety of plants, insects and invertebrates, birds, mammals and reptiles. This diversity includes a number of endemic species that are not found anywhere else on the planet.

As human use of rural areas of the Mojave Desert increases, conflicts between wildlife and people follow. The majority of public safety questions about wildlife here on post are concerned with animals that could cause injury to humans or otherwise affect human health. Most of the potential human injury issues are related to rattlesnakes, stinging or biting insects, coyotes, and more recently feral burros (non-native donkeys). For the most part, negative human/wildlife interactions can be avoided or significantly reduced with a proper understanding of wildlife behavior along with appropriate safety precautions.

Nearly 80 percent of conflicts between wildlife and humans that are reported at Fort Irwin involve snakes. When wildlife biologists respond to this type of call, almost half of the animals in question are identified as snake species that are non-venomous. Out of the 16 species of snakes native to Fort Irwin, only three (all rattlesnakes) are venomous and potentially dangerous to humans and pets. A non-venomous snake does not have the ability to cause serious harm to humans or pets and all snakes are beneficial members of the environment, keeping rodent populations in check and in turn, are a food source for a variety of native wildlife.

There are some basic facts to keep in mind that will minimize your risk of injury from snakes. You can minimize your risk of attracting snakes to your home or work area by taking a few precautions:

• Snakes are particularly attracted to buildings that offer food or shelter. Small mammals (mice, rats, ground squirrels) are the main food source for most snakes and these animals are attracted to brush and wood piles and other debris.

• Keeping work sites and locations of human habitation free of debris piles and properly disposing of trash items will greatly reduce the likelihood of snake encounters.

• Avoid piling or leaning boxes or debris up against buildings. This situation attracts rodents, black widow spiders and other pests right to your door.

Even with precautions, not all snake encounters can be avoided. During late fall and early spring, snakes can move long distances as they migrate to and from overwintering sites (called hibernacula). As a result, during these seasons snakes can sometimes be found in unexpected locations. If you do encounter a snake do not try to capture or kill it. Out of the millions of people who have come through Fort Irwin in the last 35 years only 15 individuals have been bitten by rattlesnakes. Fourteen of these bites occurred because the individual who was bitten was not using good judgment. Examples of these incidents include attempting to capture or kill the snake or wearing inappropriate footwear (flip-flops) while walking around in the training area after dark.

Another recent concern in the cantonment area is the presence of feral burros in the vicinity of residential areas and sports fields, particularly at night. Burros are increasingly attracted to the cantonment area by water and green grass as their natural food and water sources dry up in the desert. The Directorate of Public Works has placed water troughs and supplemental food at locations between Goldstone and cantonment in an attempt to diverge these animals away from human habitations. If you encounter a burro treat it like you would any wild animal. Do not leave food out for the burros and do not attempt to approach them. A burro that feels threatened or cornered, or is defending a food or water source can be very dangerous.

If you have questions or concerns about wildlife related issues during business hours, call the Natural Resources Division of DPW at 380-5044. If you need immediate assistance with a wildlife issue in cantonment between 4 p.m. and 7 a.m., Monday – Friday, or on the weekend call Fort Irwin Police at 380-1258. All wildlife concerns that occur in the training area after business hours should be referred to Range Operations at 380-3878. If you would like additional information about the ecology of the Mojave Desert or have general questions about wildlife at Fort Irwin, call the DPW lead Wildlife Biologist, Liana Aker at 380-2681.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Photo by Gustavo Bahena, Public Affairs Office

Tough love in this harsh, beautiful desert

Photo by Gustavo Bahena, Public Affairs Office The commander of Fort Irwin Dental Clinic Command, Col Todd Kimura, and his daughter, Hannah, participated in the December Resiliency Week chili cook-off with their recipe, “Boil...
 
 

Defeat Monster Mouth!

February is Children’s Dental Health Month and at the Fort Irwin Pediatric Dental Clinic we love to see kids smile! Here are some tips to help keep those smiles sparkling. Brush: Brushing twice daily with toothpaste that contains fluoride is an important part of your child’s routine. Fluoridated toothpaste may be used as early as...
 
 

News Briefs February 6, 2015

Ongoing Tax filing services. 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday – Friday. Tax center, building 230. Free tax services available to active duty military personnel (including Reserves and National Guard on orders for 30 days or more), their dependents, and military retirees. Call 380-3604. feb 11 African American/Black History Month Celebration. 11:30 a.m. – 1...
 

 
in_the_sky_3

Gray Eagle soars above NTC

A MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft flies at the National Training Center, Jan. 9. Soldiers of B Company, 229th Aviation Regiment, put into flight a MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft here, Jan. 9. The “Flying Tigers” comp...
 
 
IMG_4382

Replicating accurate unconventional warfare threats

Photos by Sgt. David Beckstrom, 11th ACR Public Affairs A training aid for real-world improvised explosive device emplacement signs and markers are on display at the Terrorist Explosive Network shop here. This display helps Sol...
 
 
Photo by Spc. Ashley Marble, Operations Group

Arctic Wolves prove their endurance

Photo by Sgt. Lindsay High, Operations Group Soldiers of Alpha Battery, 2-8 Field Artillery, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, handle a 155 mm artillery shell to be used in a M777 howitzer during training...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin