UNWANTED WILDLIFE Treating Public and Private Property With Respect
Running through the heart of Benton, the Saline River is one of the best kept secrets in Central Arkansas. Its gentle waters run quietly through beautiful forests, fields and farmlands. Much of the undeveloped land along its banks is protected and accessible only by canoe or by foot. This nature-lover’s paradise offers fishing, wildlife sightings, picnics, swimming and more.
The area of Tull, located south of Benton, is one of the most pristine areas in Saline County. The Saline River runs through thick wooded areas and any wildlife which is native to the Natural State can be found there.
In the past, it would not be uncommon for Mr. D (full identity is intentionally being withheld), to see painted buntings, deer, hogs, foxes, bear tracks and eagles on his property. Fish of all kinds could be caught on the first or second cast.
In the past, Mr. D has been asked by community leaders to open his property to young kids so they could enjoy the beauty of Arkansas and fish along the banks of the Saline River. In the past, Mr. D welcomed those requests.
Unfortunately, due to a different type of wildlife that has been occupying his land on the weekends, the once abundant animals and aquatic life have decreased. Due to the remnants left behind by this new wildlife, Mr. D does not feel safe allowing children onto his property.
Mr. D has been the victim of trespassers, who have been entering his clearly marked property and leaving heaps of trash at the end of nearly every weekend. According to Mr. D, it would not be uncommon for him to pick up hundreds of beer cans and beer bottles, liquor bottles, soft drink containers, food wrappers, chip bags, toilet tissues, used tampons, drug paraphernalia, syringes and other items which would be too graphic to describe.
According to Mr. D, under previous administrations at the Saline County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO), he had made complaints but no action was ever taken. As a final effort to protect his land and fond memories of its beauty, he asked to speak to Sheriff Rodney Wright and Chief Deputy Jay Fitzpatrick about the issue.
Mr. D explained that he now lives on the property alone. His family has either passed away or moved from the area. Mr. D has taken great pride in his 20+ acre property and was nearly in tears when he described how his land was being destroyed by trespassers on side-by-side’s and ATVs.
Chief Deputy Fitzpatrick immediately had the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) begin to look into this matter. When detectives examined the property, it was found to be clearly marked with freshly painted purple paint and numerous NO TRESPASSING signs were plainly visible.
Detectives found barbed wire, which surrounded the property to have been cut. Fresh marks from side-by-side’s and ATV’s led from the area with the cut barbed wire to the Saline River. Deep trenches were observed where these utility vehicles had been driven, repeatedly, to and from the river area. A large amount of trash was found in the immediate area along with used and unused .22 caliber rounds. One detective was noted as saying, “Trespassers have turned this man’s property into a shooting range and dumping ground.”
Mr. D stated that since the trespassers had to cut his barbed wire, they clearly knew it was not public land. “Even if this was open space, who do they think is responsible for cleaning up their mess?” questioned Mr. D. He continued and sated, “This is complete and utter disrespect for other people’s property.”
SCSO Chief Deputy Fitzpatrick stated that detectives will pursue this investigation and work closely with the SCSO Environmental/Code Enforcement Unit. Thus far, citations have been written to two individuals for Criminal Trespassing and Criminal Mischief. The Patrol Division will step up patrol in the area in an effort to curb this activity.
Protecting the citizens of Saline County from criminal activity is paramount to the Saline County Sheriff’s Office. However, protecting the land, fish and wildlife, which makes the Natural State one of the most beautiful states in America is equally as important to the SCSO.
Sheriff Wright stated, “We are attempting to shed light on this type of behavior and ask that people be respectful of other people’s property. If individuals enter onto other people’s property, they are urged to, first, obtain permission from the owner to be on that property.”
Citizens are reminded that it is illegal to: (1) trespass on private property; (2) destroy property that does not belong them and; (3) leave litter on private or public property. Anyone who wishes to report this activity is urged to contact the Saline County Sheriff’s Office at 501-303-5608.