Geese nesting in the waterpark, fawns snoozing under cars, vultures roosting in the housing area: Springtime can bring animals up-close-and-personal with humans at Fort Jackson.

The installation's Wildlife Branch has some advice on how to handle these types of encounters.

If you spot wildlife, "avoid the area if at all possible, since there's not a whole lot we can do;" virtually all native species are protected under federal regulations, said Doug Morrow, Wildlife Branch chief.

"You can observe from afar, but give (the animals) their leeway," added Travis Dodson, Fort Jackson wildlife biologist. "Don't take matters into your own hands." If the bird or animal is causing a problem, calling the Wildlife Branch is the best option.

"The spring and summer months are the time when there's a unique human wildlife interaction," Morrow said. "It's a busy time for many of the wildlife species."

During this season, many are busy reproducing and taking care of their newborns, so the department gets numerous calls about seemingly-abandoned fawns, nesting birds and other wildlife turning up in inopportune places around the installation, Morrow said.

Problems like aggressive nesting birds are "temporary," Morrow said. "The problem will resolve itself." Protective behaviors decrease as babies grow up.

"If you see a bird nest with eggs, the best advice is to leave it alone," Dodson said.

Be aware of geese nests; geese get protective of their youth during this season.

Steer clear of them, Dodson advised.

"(Geese) will actually make a little run at people if they get too close to the nest," he said. The mother goose will typically give warnings, flapping her wings at perceived predators.

If nests are in places that interfere with the mission of the Army or the livelihood of residents, the Wildlife Branch will remove them. The department is the only entity permitted to remove nests on-post.

If a fawn is found in an unusual place, like under a parked car or in the shade in front of a building, both of which happen from time to time on-post, "leave the fawn alone, wherever it's found," Morrow said. "The fawn has not been abandoned."

"It's the deer's natural behavior;" a doe will leave her offspring in a cool and seemingly protected place during the day and return to care for it at night.

It's a "defense mechanism," Dodson said. It gives the doe time to feed and do other "deer things" without having to worry about its baby's safety.

Fawns may also run to potentially dangerous, shaded places if they're spooked during the heat of the day, Morrow added.

If an animal, such as a fawn, could incur harm where it is found, call the Wildlife Branch at 751-6857 or 751-4793, but don't approach it. It is illegal to be in possession of a deer outside of hunting season, Morrow said.

Some animals may impede the training mission, like killdeer nesting in physical training areas, as happens almost every year, Morrow said.

Others can interfere with human activity, like the flock of geese that recently attempted to nest in Patriots Park and the vultures -- with the capability for destruction, like pulling off windshield wipers and damaging rooftops -- that temporarily roosted in housing. In these cases, too, Morrow said community members should get in contact with the department.

During this time of year, "we do start to get more people encountering snakes", Dodson added.
"Leave them alone," he advised. "For the most part, they're not going to hurt you;" they don't want anything to do with people.

Snakes are a protected species, so residents aren't permitted to kill them. If a snake is causing a problem in a building, those affected can give the Wildlife Branch a call, he said.

Employees at the branch are trained to mitigate the problems in compliance with federal regulations.