CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – Volunteers collected 70 bags of trash, seven tires and two shopping carts along nine miles of Cape LaCroix Creek in Cape Girardeau Saturday as part of Bashin’ Trash, an event hosted by the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Cape Girardeau Nature Center and the Cape Girardeau Parks & Recreation Department. Bashin’ Trash is held in conjunction with Friends of the Park Day in Cape Girardeau.
Two items found along the creek were a big surprise; an eight-point antlered deer skull and a 9mm magazine clip, found separately. Sara Turner, manager of the nature center, said these items represent extreme differences between what belongs and what doesn’t belong, in nature.
“The deer skull was definitely an exciting find for our group,” she said. “It’s something that belongs in nature and is representative of the wildlife that use the creek. However, the magazine is a rare and unfortunate example of what we don’t want to find in nature, along with any other trash.”
Turner said although finding any type of weapon is rare during a trash clean-up, it’s important to remember that clean-up efforts should always be supervised by adults, and suspicious items should always be turned over to authorities. In this case, the magazine was promptly delivered to the Cape Girardeau Police Department, along with a report of where it was found.
“This is a great example of ‘if you see something, say something’,” said Sgt. Rick Schmidt, public information sergeant for the CGPD. “A reasonable person would not store a weapon outside, in the woods or in a creek. It’s safe to assume those items do not belong stashed outside, so any time someone finds something like this, we want them to report it.”
In this case, the CGPD is investigating the origin of the magazine clip. Turner said this is the first time, in twelve years of the Bashin’ Trash event, that a part of a weapon was found among the trash, although the large amount of ordinary trash continues each year.
“When I consider the immense amount of trash we pull out of the creek each year, I’m so thankful for this annual event,” said Sara Turner, manager of the nature center. “It’s humbling to imagine the state the creek would be in if we didn’t continue to take care of it.”
From old appliances, to tires, to the smaller trash like water bottles and soda cups, Turner said the variety of items the group finds each year demonstrates that litter is a continual issue for wildlife that use the waterways.
“Fish and turtles get tangled in litter and it contaminates the quality of the water,” Turner said. “It’s rewarding to know we’re improving the creek for everyone who uses it, including wildlife.”
Turner said she appreciates everyone who came out to help.
“No matter what items we found along the creek, I hope our volunteers gained an appreciation for our local wild spaces, the rewards of a community working together, and a renewed enthusiasm to encourage others to discover nature,” she said.
For more opportunities to discover nature, go online to mdc.mo.gov/events.