News: Where nature calls: A look into Cherry Point wildlife
Story by Lance Cpl. Tyler J. Bolken
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. - Marines may journey through most of Cherry Point’s surrounding landscape, but within the air station’s perimeter – deep in the thick brush and tree lines – exists a small animal kingdom.
The air station’s infrastructure is blanketed by North Carolina’s scenic swamplands and forests, which is home to many animals – bears, bobcats, beavers, alligators, wild turkeys, foxes and white tail deer, to list a few.
“Recently, there was a bear at the front gate,” said Alan D. Steinhauer, conservation law enforcement officer with Cherry Point’s game warden staff. “We’ve had frequent bear sightings this year.”
The game warden staff handles all wildlife issues or concerns aboard the air station; however, it is not responsible for issues involving domestic animals.
“All calls for wildlife should come through us,” said Steinhauer. “We usually get a couple calls a week about wildlife, and they’re typically minor, like a raccoon rummaging in somebody’s building.”
The game warden said neighboring wildlife shouldn’t be a call for concern, rather a part of nature that should be appreciated.
“I think most of the animals are just traveling through,” explained Steinhauer. “There aren’t many that are constantly seen in the same area.”
Steinhauer added that most of the surrounding animals are climate sensitive and, like people, try to avoid the blistering heat.
“They want to be out when it’s a specific temperature,” said Steinhauer. “Deer, for instance, travel and feed with the moon cycle, but in general early morning and the evening are the prime times to see animals wandering about.”
A related wildlife issue is hunting, and it is permitted on the air station during respective seasons, using shotguns, bows or black powder guns. Rifles are not allowed.
Bradley A. Elam, a retired master sergeant who served at Cherry Point and has hunted at the air station since 1992, said, “I like the fact that there is a lot of access, whether you’re a bow hunter or hunt with firearms.”
Steinhauer said the air station is divided into seven gun and six bow hunting areas, depending on the proximity. State and air station hunting permits are required.
September to January is the busiest time for hunting, Steinhauer explained. Crowdedness and overhunting aren’t an issue because there is a limit to how many hunters can be in each area at one time.
“The wildlife population is always in excellent shape,” said Elam.
For more information about the wildlife aboard the air station, contact the Cherry Point Environmental Affairs Department at 466-4186 or 3631.