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