Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton’s natural environment is home to many of California’s native wildlife species, 18 endangered species, and a free roaming herd of bison. The Marine Corps strives for excellence in all matters, and protecting the natural habitat is no exception. The Game Wardens Office aboard Camp Pendleton constantly adapts to the changing environment, ensuring the wildlife living on the installation are protected.
Many changes have been implemented across the base due to COVID-19. In an effort to flatten the curve, training has been decreased, leaving otherwise active training areas vacant. These effects have left the game wardens with a new challenge in protecting wildlife on base.
With these ranges experiencing inactivity, there could be an increase in wildlife disturbance if individuals were to trespass. If unauthorized personnel were to access these areas in any way, especially in personal vehicles, it would cause a disturbance among the ranges and the wildlife that inhabit it.
“We spend much of our time preventing recreationists from negatively impacting the endangered species on base,” said Michael Tucker, chief game warden, MCB Camp Pendleton. “With recreational beaches closed, some residents might attempt to access the training beaches.”
The Game Warden’s office works to keep unauthorized individuals out of these areas by ensuring that people are informed. Signs are posted to alert individuals if they are authorized to access these areas. Signs are also posted to indicate the status of the wildlife in the area.
Through the use of game cameras and patrols, the game wardens are ready to catch any violators and hold them accountable. These efforts have sought to prevent damage to training areas and the wildlife within the base.
“Game wardens have set up trail cameras in the most sensitive areas and will write Federal citations from $280-$530 depending on the damage caused by the unauthorized recreational activity,” said Tucker. “Please don’t go to the training beaches for recreation.”
Despite the recent changes to daily life across Camp Pendleton, the game wardens remind us that it is still Spring, and the wildlife aboard our installation need the ability to carry out their natural cycles. Though these are trying times of maintaining social distancing and finding different outdoor activities to do, it is important to abide by the base regulations when entering different areas of base.
For authorized recreation aboard base, the game wardens of Camp Pendleton work to do their part to help flatten the curve. All hunting is suspended on base until further notice. However, they are actively seeking new technology to allow social distancing for hunters when hunting season begins.
“We hope the COVID-19 virus does not impact our fall hunting plans. We will resume hunter education courses once group activities are allowed again,” said Tucker. “We plan to have our hunters check-in and out via a cell phone this fall.”
Everyone must do their part to assist in preserving Camp Pendleton training areas and the wildlife that live here as we do our part in preventing the spread of COVID-19.