JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. –
The sounds of crunching leaves, crackling ice, swishing water and loud clangs of a mallet as it makes contact with a wooden beam were heard echoing through the woodland on a brisk Saturday morning.
These sounds came from six hunters and a wildlife biologist as they made their way through dense trees and into ponds to install eight wood duck nesting boxes on Fort Eustis, Virginia Feb. 7, 2015.
Wood ducks are cavity nesters and will not nest on the ground. They use places such as hollowed out dead trees to make a nest. Wood duck boxes supplement natural cavities and offer a safer place to nest.
"These boxes have predator guards installed and are normally placed over water so land mammals can't get to them," said James Dolan, 733d Civil Engineer Division wildlife biologist. "They are also not placed under low hanging vegetation so that snakes can't reach the boxes from above."
Del Clark, Army Capabilities Integration Center senior soldier and squad integrator and Fort Eustis hunt club president, said the boxes are a way to give back to the wood duck habitat.
"We're giving back to what we were able to take advantage of in the fall and winter, hunting ducks," said Clark. "It's a natural resource and you have to do things to replenish it."
Clark wants people to understand that hunters care about things other than hunting.
"Most hunters are conservationists first because we know the importance of taking care of the environment and taking care of the areas we hunt," said Clark. "Having a community of people who not only hunt together but also improve the habitat and the [hunting and environmental] programs here is important."
Dolan stated that while hunters are conservationist, Fort Eustis is committed to sustaining its natural resources.
"If you utilize a resource and want to continue to utilize it, you have to do something to ensure the resource will be here tomorrow," Dolan said.