Hunting Accident File > VIOLATIONS: > 2004


RESERVE: The manager says all wildlife is protected and violators could face prosecution.

12:38 AM PDT on Saturday, October 30, 2004

By LYLE SPENCER / The Press-Enterprise

MURRIETA - Carole Bell went out for an early hike Friday, checking out springtails, spadefoot toad eggs, beetles and vegetation at the lush vernal pools on the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve.

Bell, who manages the reserve for the Nature Conservancy, passed a half-dozen guests along the boardwalk, shuddering at the possibility that what she heard Thursday afternoon, piercing the solitude, was what she feared.

"We've been having some problems with illegal access by hunters the last two days," Bell said. "I heard some shots around 1:30, 2, after lunch. We also had reports from a neighbor who heard gunshots fired."

Any hunters would have to cross a barbed-wire fence with "No Hunting" signs clearly posted, Bell said.

"We have doves out here, and duck season just opened," she said. "They could have been shooting at anything. Our concern extends to the safety of our visitors."

All wildlife on the reserve is protected, Bell said, and violators will be prosecuted if caught.

A spokesperson at the Riverside County Regional Park and Open-Spaced District at Lake Skinner reported no illegal or suspicious activities during the hours when security patrols the area.

But at the Santa Rosa Reserve, Bell recalled an incident on Christmas day a few years ago when she was forced to take action.

She'd taken her sons for a hike by the vernal pools, which had plenty of ducks and geese at the time, and they encountered a father and son who were hunting with bow and arrow.

The father reasoned that the "No Hunting" sign didn't mention bows, Bell said, but he reluctantly agreed to leave.

Bell anticipates an unusual number of visitors inspecting the vernal pools this weekend after the two recent rainstorms filled them with water, inspiring all manner of activity among creatures protected by the reserve.

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