By Yeoman 3rd Class Timothy Daughton, Navy Region Southeast Public Affairs
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- A brutal killing early in 2010 caught the attention of several service members aboard Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS JAX). Helpless, they watched three coyotes break the neck of a doe during a noontime attack.
The coyotes were just one of various species of potentially dangerous wildlife on NAS JAX. Thankfully, base residents have someone they can trust to educate them, and in turn, protect them from potential dangers while engaging in outdoor activities.
Since 2009, Federal Game Warden Lt. Ostell Hargrove has committed himself to educating service members on NAS JAX about potential dangers, and the policies they are required to follow when hunting or fishing on base. This includes posting signs alerting pedestrians of the wildlife native to the area, said Hargrove.
As game warden, Hargrove's responsibilities include the removal of pests or dangerous wildlife from the base and ensuring all state policies are followed. He also is responsible for making sure all non-game wildlife, such as tortoises, bears, alligators and fox squirrels are not taken or harassed.
"The biggest violations I come across everyday are people not knowing they need a license to fish on base. During my first week as game warden, I issued 27 citation warnings for failure to have a license while fishing, and personally followed up on each case to make sure those issues were resolved," Hargrove said.
"After the absence of a game warden on base for four years, he came in and implemented a system that puts safety first," NAS JAX Chief of Police Randy Gommer said.
Hargrove contributed to revisions to the NAS JAX instruction 5090.10E, which outlines base hunting and fishing regulations. The changes included a daily game warden report, which documents wildlife movement and up-to-date violations. NAS JAX is required to abide by state and federal hunting and fishing regulations and to coordinate with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) for the most up to date provisions.
"I have worked at NAS JAX for 15 years, and since Lt. Hargrove has been the game warden, the hunting and fishing program on base has gone from almost nonexistent to a flawlessly-ran operation. I can confidently say he is directly responsible for the program's overall success," Gommer said.
According to Hargrove, working as NAS JAX game warden is not just a job, because he truly enjoys what he does.
"I am strict when it comes to policy and safety procedures, and I believe that human life is more important than recreational sport," he said. He is grateful for the opportunity he has been given to prove himself as the game warden.
Hunting and fishing licenses are available at the Mulberry Cove Marina. The Marina is open Monday and Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Fishing licenses are $17.50 for salt or fresh water and $33 for the combination package with military I.D. and valid driver's license. Hunting licenses are $20 with military I.D., driver's license and NAS JAX hunting orientation course certificate of completion. Authorized places to fish on base include Fisherman's Cove, Admiral's Cove, and Turtle Pond.
More information regarding authorized places to fish on base can be obtained by calling the Mulberry Cove Marina.