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Keeping the peace

By Staff Sgt. Chad Warren 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

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Far from the busy, crowded areas of Barksdale, a small group of Airmen is on watch 24/7 ensuring the safety and security of the 18,000 acres that make up the East Reservation.

The 2nd Security Forces Squadron game wardens have the unique responsibility of securing the vast perimeter of the eastern section of base as well as ensuring members who use the facilities are following the hunting, fishing and recreational activity regulations.

"Our mission out here is to make sure all base hunters, fishers and anyone who wants to do any outdoor activities, such as hiking or camping, are abiding by state and base regulations, and to ensure they are being safe," said Staff Sgt. David Wales, 2 SFS game warden NCO in charge. "Our other mission is to patrol the boundaries and make sure nobody is trespassing on the base."

With such a large area of accessible land, the hunting seasons are the busiest times for game wardens. To hunt or fish on Barksdale, members must have all applicable state and base licenses. If hunting, members must go through a Barksdale-specific hunting course as well.

"We have to make sure deer hunters are wearing the required 400 square inches of orange, aren't out during quiet hours, are being safe, and nobody is illegally poaching," said Wales. "We have a few rules that are a little bit stricter than the Louisiana state rules."

One responsibility that falls on the game wardens is ensuring all hunting stands and blinds are properly registered and marked.

A hunter may register up to three blinds and each one must be properly marked with its registration information visible within 50 feet, said Airman 1st Class Michael Meserole, 2 SFS game warden.

Due to the remote areas and rugged terrain on the East Reservation, game wardens routinely use alternative means of transportation on their patrols, such as all-terrain vehicles.

"Most of the areas where people set up blinds and deer stands are only accessible by path that are too narrow for our trucks to access," said Meserole. "That's why we have the ATVs."

In addition to checking hunting structures, wardens ensure hunters aren't using any illegal tactics to attract game. Any edible bait such as corn and salt licks are prohibited.

Failure to obey any regulations will result in a suspension of base recreational privileges. However, the length will depend on the severity of the infraction.

Though the job can be daunting with only six wardens to patrol such a massive expanse of forest and wetlands, the wardens feel privileged to be able to do a job they love.

"I get to be out in the woods, drive 4-wheelers and be close to deer and wildlife," said Meserole. "I get paid to do what I would be doing in my free time."