MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
During the summer months, the community of Cherry Point is going outdoors for camping, fishing, sports, swimming and hiking. While participating in outdoor activities, the community should be aware of the hazards of Cherry Point’s wildlife.
The air station is blanketed by North Carolina’s swamplands and forests, which is home to many animals like alligators, snakes and turtles.
A large alligator was sighted on Cherry Point two weeks ago. If an alligator is sighted, community members should leave it alone. Feeding the alligators or having any physical contact with it is prohibited.
“Alligators are protected by the state of North Carolina and harassing the animal is fineable,” said Carmen A. Lombardo, the natural resource manager with the environmental affairs department at Cherry Point. “The citation on Cherry Point is a federal citation which carries a $175 fine and court cost.”
Alligators can end up anywhere at any time said Lombardo. If you can touch it with a stick, then you are too close, he explained.
“I have called the regional supervisor with the state and have informed him of the large animal in close proximity to a lot of activity,” said Lombardo. “They are already aware that we have a big alligator and hopefully we will not have to handle the animal due to someone’s negligence.”
Apart from the alligator on Cherry Point, there is a more common hazard aboard the air station.
“The largest concern for this time of year from an environmental stand point is snakes,” said Lombardo. “The majority of our calls for nuisance wildlife are for snakes. We respond to all calls that we get.”
Unfortunately, by the time natural resources personnel arrive on scene, the snake is usually gone.
“One of the things that we ask individuals that are calling is to keep eyes on the animal so that our response is affective and we are not trying to search for a snake,” said Lombardo. “We try to stress to people that they should only call if the animal is a real threat.”
Another commonly encountered species is turtles.
“At this time of year it is not uncommon for resident turtles to be crossing roads,” said Lombardo. “Be courteous to these reptiles as they are an integral part of our landscape. They aren’t just another bump in the road.”
Any time an animal is a threat to person or property, call Environmental Affairs at 466-3593 or 466-3242. Do not physically handle any wildlife aboard the air station.