The DNR has already banned camping at the area in northwest Johnson County, and law enforcement supervisor Shawn Meier says they continued to monitor the activities there.
“We’ve had several complaints of destructive acts that go only in the Hawkeye Wildlife area. And some of those things we could handle temporarily, but we had to step up a little more of the enforcement actions. And throughout the summer we’ve been watching for any and all violations that occur on the wildlife area,” Meier says.
He says they found several issues this past weekend, including driving off the roadway, possession of drug paraphernalia, littering, OWI, and prohibited destructive acts. In addition, three individuals were charged and arrested on Sunday for indecent exposure.
Meier says they are still processing the individuals and haven’t released their names yet. He says there have not been a lot of arrests as they tried to determine how to best control the issues. “The summer for the most part was finding what we did have for violations, following up on the complaints that were there and then coming up with an enforcement action plan along with the wildlife management plan on what we want to do with the Hawkeye Wildlife Area,” Meier explains.
Meier says they found people who were mowing grass and cutting trees in the area, which is forbidden. He says the area of more than 13,000 acres is one of the largest and most important complexes for wildlife in the entire state — but many people don’t understand that. “Sadly it’s not always treated as a wildlife management area. Some people want it to be more like a park, but that’s not what it is designed for,” Meier say. “Its designed for management of game and non-game species of wildlife, plant life. There’s a lot of research studies that actually occur on that area.”
Meier says the area is expected to be heavily used during the upcoming hunting seasons and DNR officers will continue enforcement efforts to help maintain public safety as well as ensure proper use and protection of the wildlife area.