08/01/2013 -- Due to the recent heavy rains, many animals have been forced out of their natural habitat to look for shelter on dry land.
A rise in animal sightings in Base Housing has caused Installation and Environment officials to urge residents to use caution.
“We want to make the residents in Base Housing aware of some unusual animal activity due to the recent rains,” Brian Wallace, branch head, Environmental Office, Installation and Environment Division, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, said. “The wet lands around the base have more water than normal which is forcing animals such as snakes, scorpions and alligators to move to higher and drier ground.
“It is forcing them to look for shelter elsewhere including houses, sheds and other drier places,” he said. “We want the residents to be aware because the more the animals move the greater chance they will have in coming in contact with them.”
This especially goes for alligators, Wallace said.
“This is the time of the year where younger alligators start looking for newer places to live because they are being forced out of their habitat due to more mature alpha male alligators,” he said.
Wallace said he believed the alligator recently sighted on base came from off-base, either from the swampy area south of the base or Piney Woods Creek east of the base because the water there is much higher.
Alligators carry a lot of bacteria in their mouth and if bitten, an infection will set in almost immediately and it is very hard to get it under control, Wallace said.
Wallace stressed that should a resident come across any of these types of animals, not to handle the situation themselves.
“Residents that come in contact with any wildlife on base should contact the Marine Corps police Department, Installation and Environment Division Trouble Desk/Duty Officer or the Command Duty Officer if it is after hours,” he said. “We do not want anyone to handle the wild animals.”
“The Marine Corps Police Department can respond to the situation and monitor the animal until the natural resources officer or game warden arrives,” he said. “If it is something we can’t handle we can contact the Georgia Department of Natural Resources or a licensed alligator handler.”
There are certain animals on base that, in the future, may be considered as a “protected” species, according to Wallace.
“The Eastern Diamondback Rattle Snake is being considered to be put on the endangered species list,” Wallace said. “If someone harms a protected animal, there may be potential liability issues associated with it.”
Julie Robbins, natural resources officer and Al Belanger, game warden, are the only two people on base who are trained to handle these animals, Wallace said.
“They get shots for bites and stings every year in addition to annual specialized training,” he said. “It is very easy for someone to mishandle a snake or an alligator and get bit. It is just best to leave the animal alone and call the appropriate authorities.”
“Although most wildlife interactions are pleasant experiences, there are a number of animals with the potential to sting, bite, puncture, scratch or otherwise cause injury/illness to humans and domestic animals,” Robbins said. “Approximately half of all snake bites occur when humans attempted to handle or kill the snake.”
Robbins said it is important to keep these hazards in mind when wild animals are encountered.
* Remove potential habitat including wood piles, debris piles, lawn clippings, and heavy underbrush from around buildings or play areas
* Wear protective clothing when working around yard debris and wood piles, including thick leather gloves and boots.
* Limit yard work or activities during warm weather when visibility is low.
* Apply bug spray.
* Teach children to identify fire ant mounds, wasp nets and bee hives.
* Do not feed wildlife. Animals that become habituated to humans may become aggressive. This is particularly true of American alligators and raccoons.
* Keep pets up to date on vaccinations - particularly for rabies and distemper.
* Inspect and replace door sweeps and window jambs to prevent access
* Report heavy mosquito activity to the Naval Branch Health Clinic
* Seek immediate medical attention if you are bit by a wild animal or appear to have an allergic reaction.
Wildlife POC list
Command Duty Officer
Installation and Environment Division Trouble Desk/Duty Officer
Marine Corps Police Department
Natural Resources Officer