In the Innsbrook Nature Group’s Fall 2018 Newsletter we referenced a new shooting range operating in Warren County just west of Innsbrook. In my personal assessment from having attended recent Warren County P&Z meetings, it seems more like a live-action bootcamp to provide combat-style weapons training to those who may seek a career in the military or law enforcement.
While that training may be an admirable mission, it has no place here in a rapidly growing semi-rural community, next door to a resort like Innsbrook, where people have invested in property to escape the noise pollution and increasing gun violence of urban areas. It’s no surprise that in our nature group surveys, enjoying nature in silence and quiet is ranked at the top. We already suffer from noise pollution coming from an existing shooting range just west of Innsbrook in Reifsnider State Forest. In addition to safety issues and noise pollution, we are equally concerned about environmental pollution from the toxic waste that will created from the use of lead ammunition.
On Tuesday, Innsbrook Resort launched an online petition to gather up support opposing the permit that has now been granted to the operators. If you have not yet done so, we encourage you to join us by adding your name and comment to a growing list of over 1,000 neighbors inside and outside of Innsbrook opposed to this operation. Here’s the link at https://www.thepetitionsite.com/183/022/292/concerned-innsbrook-citizens/.
Next, take a moment to thank Charlie Boyce at firstname.lastname@example.org for taking the lead in protecting Innsbrook and our natural environment. When you do request that Innsbrook Resort follows through by filing a formal protest appeal before next Tuesday with the Warren County Commissioners urging them to rescind the P&Z permit. If this appeal does not get filed in time, our petition and all the comments may never be considered.
You can also voice your opinion directly with the Warren County Planning & Zoning Commission at 636-456-3044 or by contacting the Village of Innsbrook at https://www.villageofinnsbrook.org/contact.html to ask that they collect and relay the concerns of Village residents to Warren County officeholders.
Finally, be sure to get outside this weekend at Innsbrook as we are now near peak fall foliage colors!
Autumn Leaves Photo Courtesy and Copyright of Cindy Bowers
In recent weeks there have been several more sightings of bears in Innsbrook, including most surprisingly a cub. For those unable to attend the timely Missouri Dept. of Conservation presentation on “Bear Aware”, hosted by the Village of Innsbrook on Sept. 29, here are the most important notes we took along with tips acquired from other respected sources. (You may wish to make a copy of this and keep it on your property for family and especially guests. Print it out HERE.)
MDC Photo of American Black Bear
There is less need to be overly alarmed or afraid if you are educated and prepared! American Black Bears are shy and typically non-aggressive unless threatened, cornered, hungry, or with cubs. They usually avoid human contact. They are omnivores constantly searching for food sources and will learn where they are located very quickly and keep returning once they find a source. That is often when they become dangerous.
In 2018 there have been at least two MDC-confirmed sightings in Warren County and six total across the greater St. Louis region. If you see a bear please report it at HERE. Individuals, rural communities and resorts can avoid incidents or threats to property or lives, but must be willing to make changes at the personal and community levels.
Here are some personal safety tips we have gathered from the MDC and other sources:
- As you hike, don’t just look at the path in front of you, but all around
- Don’t forget bears, especially cubs, could climb into trees above you as well
- Don’t wear ear buds while hiking in the woods where you can’t hear nature
- Be careful around their natural food sources and possible den sights
- Keep your pets close and on leash
- Be cautious in the mornings and evenings, or avoid dawn and dusk solo hikes
- Remember that bears have excellent vision and smell
- When you see a bear, don’t stare, and avoid direct eye contact
- Keep standing, don’t crouch, cower, crawl or climb
- Don’t shout, scream, threaten or move suddenly
- Never leave a bear without an easy escape route
- Don’t run away from it, turn your back to it, and don’t follow either!
- Gather your group together to look bigger
- Raise hands, talk calmly, and walk away slowly backwards
- Be extra cautious around sows with cubs
- Consider having bells, hiking stick, or bear spray with you
- Use bear spray as the last resort only when close and you are upwind
- Never ever feed a bear directly or indirectly as a fed bear will become dangerous then a dead bear
Here are best practices for helping rural communities to live safely with bears which we have also collected from the MDC and multiple sources:
- Communities should educate and prepare property owners, families, guests, visitors to be bear aware
- Consider handing out informational tags to residents and visitors as other states and resorts do
- Use trash dumpsters with lids, keep lids closed, place in fenced corrals, or with electric fences
- Encourage property owners not to store trash outside
- Leave garage doors closed and other doors secure
- Be smart about berry bushes, gardens, orchard trees, and bee hives on your property
- Post reminders to be bear aware on trailheads and at outdoor venues
- Hike in groups, look ahead, no ear buds, avoid dawn/dusk
- Be aware where a bear may make its den from October – March
- Don’t leave pets or pet food outside, even empty food bowls
- Recommended to take bird feeders down April – November if a bear could reach them
- Another reason not to feed wildlife like deer
- Be especially careful around bird houses, eggs, bee hives, and honey
- Don’t leave coolers, food, and BBQ grills out
- Remove all artificial food sources and smells from the outside
- Practice campground rules on bear safety for chalet decks and patios
- Share bear sightings with your regional MDC office and within the community
Thanks to the Village of Innsbrook and in particular our elected trustee Trish Dunn for organizing the MDC visit. However, we believe that Innsbrook Resort and the Innsbrook Property Owners Association trustees should also be actively involved in educating and preparing our community to live with wildlife like bears, regardless of perceived marketing concerns. After all, promoting wildlife appreciation and bear awareness safety is far better publicity than that from having an avoidable incident that harms a human and/or results in the killing of a bear.
For more information and references on American Black Bears visit our Innsbrook Nature Group website page at Bear Resources.