Agents in Action
received a report from a passing canoeist who had moments earlier observed another floater shoot a great blue heron.
Based on the description provided, the agents were able to confront the offender and obtain a confession.
On a summer day, Texas County Conservation Agent Travis Mills and Howell County Conservation Agent Shawn Pennington were in the same vehicle headed to a problem area for a coordinated patrol when they noticed two men on the shoulder of the roadway and a vehicle parked a couple hundred yards away. Between the men and the vehicle they noticed several uprooted plants and quite a bit of soil disturbance.
They returned a few minutes later only to find the men and the plants already gone. They radioed ahead to the local police, who stopped the vehicle they described.
The men had about 200 pounds of snakeroot they had illegally dug from the public right-of-way. Snakeroot is a plant of commercial value because of its medicinal properties. Both men were cited.
The Conservation Department still uses some fire towers to watch for and pinpoint the locations of fires, especially during the spring and fall fire seasons.
So when Conservation Agent Jeff Crites was alerted by a phone call to possible vandalism in progress at a fire tower in Shannon County, his response was immediate.
In this case, the caller reported seeing a vehicle parked in front of a locked gate leading to the tower and two people climbing the tower a few minutes later. Agent Crites met the described vehicle coming out of the restricted area. One of the men inside admitted to using a hammer to break the lock off the gate so he could drive up and “…show my friend the tower.”
Both men were charged with entering a restricted area and possession of drug paraphernalia. The man who broke the lock was also charged with second-degree property damage. They pleaded guilty to all charges and were assessed fines and court costs.
Wildfire suppression in the Ozark Region is still an activity that requires much time and resources. The job is made harder because of a few people who set fires on purpose.
The first day of April a couple of years ago, a local pilot contracted by the Conservation Department to fly a fire watch reported two fires strung along a county road near the Shannon and Carter county lines. He also spotted a vehicle in the area.
Agents from Shannon