Commentary

May 3, 2013

Happily coexisting with wildlife in the desert

Spring season wildlife issues to know about on Fort Irwin

 

Sidewinder rattlesnake

Wildlife activity at the National Training Center and Fort Irwin is increasing as winter has transitioned into spring.

Near the end of March, reptiles within the Mojave Desert emerged from winter dormancy. Most reptiles at Fort Irwin pose no threat to human safety and the only snakes in California considered dangerous to humans are rattlesnakes. All rattlesnakes have a rattle at the end of their tails and triangular heads, which are noticeably larger than the neck. In contrast, the 13 species of non-venomous snakes at Fort Irwin have tapered tails with heads about the same width as the neck.

Fewer than 20 rattlesnake bites have been reported since the inception of the NTC in 1979. The risk of rattlesnake bites is extremely low when considering nearly five million Soldiers, contractors, and federal civilians have passed through the NTC. Most snake bites occur when untrained individuals attempt to capture or kill the snake or do not follow safety precautions. In general, snakes only bite when they feel threatened and will often retreat into the desert when left alone. However, a rattlesnake in or near a building is a legitimate safety concern.

Springtime is also a busy period for birds. The breeding season for many birds in the Mojave peaks in spring but nesting continues throughout the summer. Most native birds in the Mojave build open cup nests. However, a common non-native species, the European starling, nests inside cavities. They are particularly fond of attic vents found on houses. Residents should make sure protective screening is in place on attic vents during the spring breeding period. If not, you will likely get a noisy, messy starling nesting in your attic. Once you have an attic nest, coordination between DPW Environmental, All-Pro Pest Control, and Pinnacle Housing is required to remove the nest before vents can be re-screened.

One of the most serious wildlife issues at Fort Irwin is humans subsidizing food for coyotes and ravens. Not only is it against Army regulations to intentionally feed any wildlife, but feeding coyotes often has unfortunate consequences. Coyotes fed by humans lose their natural fear of people and can become aggressive. Once this happens the animal must be captured and euthanized so that it doesn’t bite an adult or child. Many coyotes living near cantonment become infected with mange, an infectious parasite that causes skin disease. Some citizens feel sorry for these animals and give them food to be “kind.” However, negative consequences for both the coyote and the human community far outweigh benefits a coyote gets from such handouts. Often, a “fed coyote is a dead coyote.”

European starling.

People can practice some basic precautions to reduce negative interactions with wildlife. Ravens, coyotes, and small mammals thrive on human trash. Concentrations of small mammals, in turn, attract snakes. Properly disposing of trash and keeping dumpster lids closed dramatically reduces negative wildlife encounters. Because rattlesnakes are nocturnal, ambush-predators that sit and wait for prey to walk by, it is a good practice to wear boots and long pants when camping or hiking in the desert, especially at night.

Snakes, bird nests and coyotes account for most of the nuisance wildlife calls to DPW Environmental. Other common wildlife reports include desert tortoise sightings, injured or baby animals, feral burros in the cantonment area, and an occasional bobcat. In most cases, wild animals will leave you alone if you leave them alone. However, if a wild animal becomes a safety issue, you can call DPW Environmental at 380-5044 for assistance (Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Assistance after business hours is coordinated within cantonment through the Fort Irwin Police Station by calling 380-4444 and in training areas through Range Operations at 380-3878.




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


 
 

 
Photo by Serina Viers, MEDDAC

After foot amputation, Soldier’s mission is to remain infantry

Photo by Serina Viers, MEDDAC Spc. Kevin Nguyen performs an Army Physical Fitness Test at Fort Irwin, March 12. Staff Sgt. Rafael Machuca (right) of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, here, administered the APFT. Sergeant 1st C...
 
 

Federal income taxes and the Affordable Care Act

Many tax payers have asked how the new health care law, called the Affordable Care Act, will affect them when filing income tax returns. While the new law should have no affect for most tax payers when filing 2013 taxes, the new law may affect 2014 income tax filings. The individual shared responsibility provision of...
 
 

Military Assistance Corporation ends military allotments processing

If you are currently using a military allotment to repay a loan, be aware that one of the largest allotment processors, Military Assistance Corporation, ended allotment processing on March 31. This is only for allotments used to pay commercial/consumer loans (e.g. loans for furniture or electronics). This will not affect MAC allotments for housing. If...
 

 
socialmedia_img_version2

Your Profession

Social media is a great tool for Soldiers to stay informed, meet new friends and to keep in-touch with family when abroad. When you use social media with those goals in mind, you’re implementing sound social media application...
 
 

Law protects from unfair debt collection practices

Are you currently in debt to the point where you have debt collectors harassing you? If so, you should know that there is a federal law that can protect you from unfair debt collection practices. It will not completely eliminate the debts you owe, but will protect you from harassment and abuse by debt collectors. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act involves...
 
 
Photo courtesy of DPW

Spring is for the birds

Photo courtesy of DPW A raven nest at Fort Irwin. Prepare early to prevent birds from nesting in your attic Is mid-winter too early to start preparing for the upcoming bird nesting season? No, it’s the perfect time! Complaint...
 




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