October 4, 2016 --
Hunting violations could land you in trouble aboard Quantico
Poaching, opportunistic hunting, trespassing in restricted areas and illegally baiting wildlife are some of the most prevalent hunting violations seen aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, according to Euel Tritt, head of conservation law enforcement for the base.
“It can be like the Wild West out there,” Tritt said.
Poaching was a bigger problem in the early 1980s, when the conservation law enforcement program had just started and when there were no regulated gates into and out of base. Now, Tritt said, the biggest issue is Marines coming to the base from other states and not knowing the hunting regulations that are specific to the state of Virginia.
For instance, baiting—the practice of leaving out a food source to lure animals for the purpose of shooting them—is illegal in Virginia. However, it is legal in other parts of the country and Marines posted to MCBQ from those places may not know that it is prohibited here.
Tritt has photographs of corn being used to bait waterfowl aboard base and the game check station possesses a salt lick made to look like a large rock that someone was using to lure deer.
“Read the regulations for the base on the website,” Tritt said. “And if you don’t know, ask!”
“Opportunistic hunting” is another common violation. A Marine who shoots a deer from his back deck in base housing or grabs the unsecured shotgun to shoot a deer he sees on the side of the road while out driving is engaging in opportunistic hunting.
“Weapons must be unloaded and secured in cases when you’re driving on base,” Tritt said. “Otherwise, the temptation can be too great.”
The game wardens sometimes use turkey decoys to try to catch opportunistic, roadside hunters.
“No-trespassing” signs are also tempting.
“Forbidden fruit is the most attractive,” Tritt said. He added that most people who trespass in impact areas are citizens not associated with the base at all. This is dangerous as well as illegal, as trespassers usually wear camouflage instead of the required blaze orange, making them hard to see by Marines engaged in range training.
And while it is not as much of a problem as it was decades ago, poaching still occurs aboard base. Tritt said poachers go after deer and wild turkey mostly.
“Poaching is tough to investigate because there are usually no witnesses and animals can’t talk,” Tritt said. The game wardens will find pieces of animal hair and tissue and work backwards to figure out what happened. Autopsies are conducted on animal carcasses to determine whether the animal died from an unauthorized weapon.
“It’s like putting a puzzle together,” Tritt said.
Tritt has seen Marines’ careers destroyed because of poaching.
“It’s not worth it,” he said. “There’s no thought about poaching that’s original. It’s all already been done. If you have to look over your shoulder while you’re doing something, it’s probably wrong.”
“We don’t want to take Marines to federal court for this,” he continued. “We want the Marines to be aware of the regulations and follow them.”
The three MCBQ game wardens are armed at all times and have arrest authority. Federal law enforcement authority is delegated to them through the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and it extends off the base as well.
To hunt aboard Quantico, hunters must have the necessary state and federal licenses and must also purchase a base hunting license ($5 per trip or $20 per year) from the game check station. Those without a Department of Defense Common Access Card will have to undergo a background check. All hunters are required to watch a 30-minute orientation video.
Detailed regulations can be found at the National Resources and Environmental Affairs website: http://www.quantico.marines.mil/Offices-Staff/GF-Installation-and-Environment/Natural-Resources-Environmental-Affairs/Quantico-Sportsman/Hunting/.