Hunting with artillery shells at Fort McCoy

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Associated Press report that those interested in doing some hunting at the Fort McCoy Army training base near Lacrosse, WI are being told to beware of  “live artillery and mortar rounds” (unexploded explosives) that might be present in the woods.

English: Sign near Interstate 90 outside the m...
English: Sign near Interstate 90 outside the main gate to United States Army Fort McCoy in Monroe County, Wisconsin. (Photo credit: Jonathunder Creative Commons-some rights reserved via Wikipedia. Click photo for copyright information.)

More than 45,000 acres of Fort McCoy are used for Army training purposes, and the fort also opens its lands to hunting, fishing, trapping and the gathering of firewood. Data is collected “to monitor wildlife populations and wildlife health,” says the Fort McCoy website. One can imagine, however, that the firing of live artillery and mortar rounds onto that land may not be the best thing for the health of the wildlife, unless the deer population there is really out of control. Nor may it be the best place to go hunting and fishing after the shooting is done.

It seems that once the practice sessions of war are over at Fort McCoy, at least some of the still-dangerous bombs remain in the ground and can be brought again to the surface through natural processes or by being uncovered by man-made disturbances. Troops, we are told, “often” use such live ammunition during training exercises. The fort’s safety manager issued the warning and explained what to do if you should find some lost artillery shells– essentially, retreat.

But what if the bomb is not easily seen or lies just below the surface? Should the Army be using any live ammunition on lands open to the public? Shouldn’t all such explosives be accounted for and removed before public access is allowed?

At least the hunters, fishermen, trappers and gatherers of firewood will be comforted to know that concealed-carrying of firearms is “strictly prohibited” at Fort McCoy.

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